CAAS launches probe into SIA pilot who busted alcohol limit; first case in 10 years

CAAS launches probe into SIA pilot who busted alcohol limit; first case in 10 years
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Singapore's aviation regulator has launched investigations into a Singapore Airlines (SIA) pilot who was caught in Australia last Saturday (Sept 15) for failing an alcohol test before a flight.

It is the first time in 10 years that the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is investigating such a case, its director (airworthiness and flight operations) Alan Foo told The Straits Times.

SIA, which has suspended the pilot, has also started its own investigations into the incident.

The incident last Saturday had forced the airline to cancel a flight from Melbourne to Wellington, New Zealand.

Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority officials had conducted a random drug and alcohol test on all crew members before they started their pre-flight checks.

The pilot in question was found to have a higher-than-suitable blood alcohol level and did not pass the test.

Mr Foo stressed that the CAAS takes a serious view of the incident.

"CAAS views substance/alcohol abuse by pilots very seriously," he said.

He added: "It is an offence for any person, including a pilot, when acting as a member of the crew of an aircraft operating out of our airports or for Singapore-registered aircraft, anywhere it is operating, to be under the influence of alcohol."

Under Singapore's Air Navigation Order, the offence carries a maximum penalty of a fine of up to $100,000 and five years in jail.

"It is the responsibility of each pilot to ensure that he or she does not commit such an offence," Mr Foo further stressed.

Singapore carriers must ensure that their flight crew abstain from alcoholic drinks for at least eight hours prior to operating a flight.

SIA, however, requires its cabin crew to abstain for at least 10 hours.

Pilots and cabin crew may report to the CAAS if they suspect that a member of the flight crew is under the influence of alcohol or a substance, the authority said.

On top of that, airline pilots licensed in Singapore have to undergo an annual medical assessment, which includes an assessment of his or her alcohol consumption habits, in addition to the physical examination and medical investigations that are usually carried out, Mr Foo said.

SIA said that while it does not conduct random alcohol or substance tests, the airline's flight crew are required to undergo any drug and alcohol tests administered by the relevant authorities.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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