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Random drug testing for pilots, cabin crew, and ATC staff is approved by the Delhi High Court

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The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) order to mandate random drug testing for aviation professionals, including flight crew, cabin crew, and air traffic control staff, has been accepted by the Delhi High Court.

“After perusing CAR [Civil Aviation Requirement, ed.-] as also after hearing parties and their counsels, it is clear that the testing of personnel for psychoactive substances is essential, considering the nature of services being rendered”, the Delhi High Court said in its decision dated December 2, 2022.

The decision was made in response to a request for a review of Section 5 of the CAR, which was revised by the nation’s Ministry of Civil Aviation in September 2021, from the Indian Pilots Guild and the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) Guild.

The Hindu reports that members of the flight crew and ATC staff argued that the new regulations governing drug testing do not take into account the usage of a number of essential medications, such as those used to manage diabetes or hypertension. The employees inquired as to why there weren’t enough competent Medical Review Officers (MROs) available to conduct tests.

The court did guarantee that six substances—which ordinarily do not include hypertension or diabetes medications—are being tested for in drug tests. The court also listed cannabis, cocaine, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, opiates, and metabolites of amphetamine and amphetamine-based stimulants.

“According to the DGCA, the above substances do not generally include hypertension medicines or anti-diabetic medications. Thus, there is no need to give any specific exception, as the positive testing is only for the above six substances,” the court document said.

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