High Court Rules Indian Airlines Must Follow 10% Breath Test Rule

The Delhi High Court has ruled that airlines must follow the new 10% breathalyzer rule through the pandemic.…

High Court Rules Indian Airlines Must Follow 10% Breath Test Rule

The Delhi High Court has ruled that airlines must follow the new 10% breathalyzer rule through the pandemic. The ruling came after the DGCA said some airlines were asking more than 10% of their flight crew to undergo the tests. However, many pilot and cabin crew unions have been pushing to suspends the tests altogether due to the risk of COVID-19.

The DGCA has adjusted alcohol breath test rules amid India’s devastating second wave and high risks. Photo: Getty Images


According to The New Indian Express, the Delhi High Court has upheld the DGCA’s new rules requiring 10% of flight crew and air traffic controllers (ATCs) to be breathalyzed before flights. The court has asked airlines to strictly follow the new rules and not try to test more crew than allowed under the decision.

The ruling is actually a consequence of a DGCA complaint to the court stating that airlines are testing more percentage of crews before flying than allowed. However, it also responds to pleas filed by a pilot’s unions and the ATC Guild.

Air India Crew Getty
Breathalyzers carry many potential risks to transmit COVID-19, especially as India battles the largest surge in cases ever recorded. Photo: Getty Images

The DGCA, on 27th April, officially amended breathalyzer rules amid a massive second wave of COVID-19 cases. The rules limit airline tests to just 10% of their total domestic flight crew. Flight crews will now be randomly tested and will need to give declarations that they have not consumed alcohol or psychotropic substance in the 12 hours before flying.

While the 10% limit will reduce the number of crew undergoing breathalyzer tests, it is still far from the outright ban that many were pushing for. So what are the risks of containing these tests during the second wave?

First to go

Keen observes may notice that breathalyzer tests were the first to be suspended when the pandemic began in early 2020. The DGCA halted tests on certain routes due to the risk of spreading COVID-19 through the test machines, which requires one to blow air into them for analysis. Breathalyzers were suspended outright in March as cases began to rise in India.

There are few main risks with using breathalyzers during the pandemic. The first being that since air from the machine comes out from the other side, respiratory droplets and aerosols could linger in a room. The second is that bad sanitation opens the door to crew inhaling particles from others being tested and infecting them as well.

Indian airlines Getty
Crews might risk contracting COVID-19 due to sanitation issues around breathalyzers. Photo: Getty Images

Responding to these claims, the court said that it is satisfied by the UV cleaning process currently in place for breathalyzers. However, the court has also asked a medical committee if the tests can be conducted outdoors and after a rapid COVID-19 test to prevent infections from spreading. These decisions will be made in the coming weeks.

Airlines boosting cargo efforts

Crews around the country have been hard at work carrying critical medical equipment to battle India’s rising cases. Domestic airlines have been flying in various oxygen-producing machines, masks, PPE, and critically, vaccines. In addition to this, some airlines have also offered to fly medical personnel across the country for free to bolster the system.

What do you think about the debate over testing for crews? Should it be suspended considering the cases? Let us know in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Virgin Plans To Launch Satellites From A Boeing 747 Next Month

With the help of a former Virgin Atlantic 747-400, Virgin Orbit is planning its next orbital launch for…

Virgin Plans To Launch Satellites From A Boeing 747 Next Month

With the help of a former Virgin Atlantic 747-400, Virgin Orbit is planning its next orbital launch for June. The mission will see the company launching satellites for the US Department of Defense and the Royal Netherlands Air Force, among other clients. Let’s take a look at this exciting mission.

The company’s second launch demonstration took place in late January, successfully deploying payloads for NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP). Photo: Virgin Orbit

The next rocket is fully assembled

Now that the company has shown the world its ability to launch payloads into space, Virgon Orbit is wrapping up its “Launch Demo” program. Now, the company is moving into another mission, one it has named “Tubular Bells, Part One.”

“At this very moment, the rocket that will carry our next customers to space is fully assembled, and in the coming days we’ll ship it out to our Mojave test site for prelaunch operations. As all this is now familiar work, our team has been able to operate at a whole new level of efficiency and precision.” -Virgin Orbit

A look at the rocket that will be used in the next mission. Photo: Virgin Orbit

Tubular Bells, Part One

Very soon, Virgin Orbit will conduct its next orbital launch. The company says that its efforts are on track for June. This, the company says, is much faster than what others have achieved in the past: “Historically, the space industry has been slow to ramp up from early tests to the start of commercial service. Thanks to a world-class team and our fully operational, cutting-edge factory, Virgin Orbit is breaking that tradition.”

Customers working with Virgin Orbit on this mission are as follows:

  • The US Department of Defense, which is launching three CubeSat sets as part of the DoD Space Test Program’s (STP) Rapid Agile Launch (RALI) Initiative.
  • The Royal Netherlands Air Force, which is launching the Netherlands’ first military satellite, a CubeSat called BRIK II.
  • SatRevolution, which is launching the first two optical satellites, STORK-4 and STORK-5, of the company’s 14-satellite STORK constellation.

Virgin Orbit says that the launch will be conducted from “what is currently a bare concrete pad” at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The target orbit for the payload is 500km, “circular orbit at 60 degrees inclination.”

Cosmic Girl will continue its service

It was about six years ago that Virgin Atlantic’s “Cosmic Girl” was retired from regular, earthly passenger service. Withdrawn from use in October 2015, G-VWOW headed to San Antonio for storage before re-registered in the US days later as N744VG under Virgin Galactic.

“It was amazing seeing the modified 747 looking so different from her days as part of our Virgin Atlantic fleet. It’s the ultimate upcycling!” -Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group (2018)

A look at Cosmic Girl being fitted with a rocket. Photo: Virgin Orbit

Cosmic Girl’s configuration of 386 passenger seats (48 business, 32 premium economy, and 306 economy) was stripped clean, its interior refitted and modified for its new and exciting role.

For those new to the work of Virgin Orbit, the former Virgin Atlantic 747 is the vehicle responsible for taking the rocket, “LauncherOne,” to an altitude where it can be launched, propelling its payload of satellites up into orbit. Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson notes that Cosmic Girl is “the first 747 in history that has been converted to launch rockets.”

Have you been tracking the progress of Virgin Orbit’s work? Will you be following the progress of the Tubular Bells mission? Let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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