Airlines shouldn't be self-policing their pilots

Mr Lim Boon Seng's letter may lead some to infer that pilots at Changi Airport are randomly tested for sobriety (Make alcohol tests for pilots mandatory; Sept 21).

Just to be clear, this is not the case. There is no protocol instituted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) for random testing of pilots.

The authority leaves it to airlines to ensure that their pilots comply with existing regulations.

This should not be so.

While an argument can be made for light-touch regulation in a competitive market like aviation, this must not be allowed when it comes to the safety of air passengers.

We should not trust airlines to self-police on a matter as important as air travel safety.

Airlines may be reluctant to implement strict policing of their pilots for a variety of reasons, including cost considerations or resistance by powerful unions.

It is high time that the CAAS puts in place a regime to, at the very least, randomly test pilots flying out of Changi so that pilots know that they risk getting caught when there is temptation to take a pre-flight tipple.

We should not wait for an accident to happen before taking action.

Peter Tan Jek Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2018, with the headline 'Airlines shouldn't be self-policing their pilots'. Print Edition | Subscribe