A senior Air India pilot, who was caught drunk just before he was to operate a flight out of Chennai last month, has been deprived of his Training Captain (TC) status and removed from all administrative duties for three years, it was officially stated here on Thursday.

Action against the erring pilot came after Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh took a strong view of reports about drunken pilots and sought details from Air India about Capt. Joseph, who was earlier suspended for three months following the incident.

The pilot in question, Air India's Deputy General Manager (Operations) in Chennai, had tested positive for alcohol in a pre-flight medical check-up on February 3. He was about to operate flight AI-671/672 on the Chennai-Madurai-Chennai-Mumbai sector, which was then operated by another commander.

The senior commander, who also held the charge of Flight Operations Inspector (FOI) with aviation regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation), was among the highest-grade pilots in the country. An FOI can carry out sanitisation checks in any Indian carrier and on their pilots too. As a Training Captain, Mr. Joseph used to hold the status of a check-pilot, examiner and instructor.

Air India has removed him from all these positions for three years following the incident and has reported back to the Minister, official sources said.

The DGCA has adopted a tough stance against drunken pilots, recommending the strongest possible action. It has also asked airlines to improve the alco-sensors to carry out these pre-flight checks.

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