New Delhi: Problems seem to follow Air India. Senior Air India pilot Arvind Katpalia who flew a flight on January 19, 2017 from Delhi to Bengaluru without taking the mandatory breath analyser test prior to the flight has finally been booked after more than a year due to the intervention of a court.

It’s a serious security concern since pre-breath analysis to ascertain whether one is flying in an inebriated condition and skipping the test is never an option.

Katpalia allegedly threatened Dr Nitin Sethi, DGCA’s doctor on duty, against insisting on the test. Dr Sethi later alleged the senior captain not only intimidated him — exercising a tremendous clout in the organisation — but also manipulated the record of the pre-breath analyser test.

In spite of that, almost no serious action was taken against him. The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) had to approach a court of law to demand some action against him, much against the wish of the management. Now the Patiala House court has ordered Delhi Police to file an FIR.

In its order, the court stated, "... prima facie cognisable offences are made out which required detailed examination and collection of evidence. Hence, SHO, PS, IGI Airport is directed to register an FIR and investigate the present case”.

In what shows the gravity of the offence, the court ordered an FIR to be filed against Lalit Gupta, the Joint Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as well.
An FIR has finally been lodged against the wayward pilot after 19 months of the alleged crime. The FIR was filed under Sections 201, 204, 465, 466, 471, 506, 202, 217, 279, 280, and 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as Section 11 of Aircraft Act, 1934.

The very fact the Joint DGCA has been named as a co-accused shows the influence the accused pilot wielded not only in Air India but also in the aviation body.

The ICPA has now shot off a letter to Civil Aviation Minister, pleading, “There is no further intervention, manipulation or intimidation by Capt Kathpalia or his office.”

But the question remains why it took 19 months to register an FIR against a pilot who is alleged to have flown thousands of people in a drunken state, thus risking their lives.