Random alcohol tests for pilots flying out of Singapore from March 31

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said that Singapore carriers will also be required to strengthen their alcohol abstention policies.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said that Singapore carriers will also be required to strengthen their alcohol abstention policies.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has announced stiffer rules to rein in pilots who drink and fly.

Confirming a report in The Straits Times in February, the CAAS said on Thursday (March 28) that with effect from March 31, pilots flying out of Changi and Seletar airports will be subjected to random alcohol testing.

Stressing a zero tolerance policy towards alcohol consumption, the authority said that the alcohol abstinence standard will be 0.02 grams per 210 litres of breath.

Pilots found to exceed this limit will not be permitted to fly.

In addition, pilots found to be operating under the influence of alcohol may be subject to criminal penalties of up to $50,000 in fines and imprisonment of up to two years for the first offence, and up to $100,000 in fines and up to five years' jail for repeat offenders.

The tough rules come after Singapore Airlines (SIA) fired a pilot who failed an alcohol test in Australia before he was to operate a flight. The September incident in Melbourne forced the airline to cancel a flight.

CAAS said on Thursday that Singapore carriers will also be required to strengthen their alcohol abstention policies.

 
 
 
 

From May 2019, they will be required to implement an Airline Alcohol Management Programme to proactively identify, manage and rehabilitate pilots with problematic use of alcohol.

The programme must include components such as a comprehensive peer and self-reporting system, as well as an alcohol rehabilitation programme for pilots.

CAAS said the enhancements to the regulatory regime were developed following a comprehensive review and consultations with the aviation community.

Mr Kevin Shum, CAAS director-general, said: "The safety of aircraft operations, passengers and crew on board is paramount. CAAS and the aviation community take a serious view of pilots operating aircraft under the influence of alcohol.

"The new alcohol testing and management programmes will help ensure that pilots' ability to operate aircraft is not impaired by alcohol."