57 pilots found drunk in charge of an aircraft - but most keep their jobs

Katy Holland

As many as 57 pilots were found to be drunk immediately before they were due to fly, according to random tests carried out in India.

But only 11 were sacked for endangering the lives of passengers . The rest received lighter punishments, such as temporary pay cuts and groundings of three months, according to the Times of India newspaper.

Jet Airways, India's largest domestic airline, was found to be the biggest offender, with 23 pilots reporting drunk. None of them were dismissed, according to a statement presented in Parliament by Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi.

Other airlines include IndiGo Airlines and SpiceJet, which had 11 and seven offenders respectively. Of these, four pilots were sacked from each, while Kingfisher Airlines sacked three of its eight pilots who reported drunk for duty.

All the rest from airlines that included state-run Air India got away with mild punishments or warning letters.

India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation ruled in 2010 that pilots would have to be grounded for three months the first time they reported drunk and, if it happened a second time, their commercial flying licence would be cancelled.

The rapid growth of India's private airlines has led to a huge demand for pilots.

The news comes after other reports of pilots in India holding fake licences. Delhi Police last week arrested a female pilot for using forged documents to get a licence from the country's airline regulator.

And last May, an official investigation blamed a 'sleepy pilot' for a plane crash in southern India that killed 158 people.

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