India pilot suspended for three years for failing alcohol test

Air India airlines aircraft are parked at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India, Image copyright EPA
Image caption Air India is the country's state-owned airline

India's aviation regulator has barred a senior pilot from flying for three years after he failed an alcohol test.

Captain Arvind Kathpalia, who is also the Director of Operations at state-owned Air India, was to command the Delhi-London flight on Sunday.

A substitute pilot was brought in after he failed the test. Capt Kathpalia has denied the charges against him.

Aviation authorities say he was suspended for three months for a similar offence last year too.

"The privileges of his licence have been suspended for a period of three years from 11 November as per the provisions of applicable regulations," aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a statement.

The airline said he had been grounded.

On Sunday, Capt Kathpalia said he was a victim of internal fighting within Air Indian and that he would challenge the results of the tests.

Aviation rules prohibit pilots from drinking 12 hours before flying and pre-flight alcohol tests are mandatory for them.

In January, the DGCA barred for five years two pilots - a man and a woman - who fought inside the cockpit.

The pilots were then fired by the private Jet Airways after the incident on a London-Mumbai flight.

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