Considering how complex it is to fly a plane, it makes sense pilots are typically prohibited from drinking before or during a flight; no passenger wants the person flying their plane to be under the influence.
However, one country’s proposed regulation against pilots using perfume doesn’t make as much sense, at first.
India’s aviation bylaws about alcohol consumption already state crew members cannot consume drugs or ‘formulations’ or use substances such as mouthwash.
If the proposal made by India’s Office of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) goes ahead, perfume will also make the list.
The proposed clause in the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) would read: “No crew member shall consume any drug/formulation or use any substance such as mouthwash/tooth gel/perfume or any such product which has alcoholic content,” the Hindu reported.
Air India and other airlines would have to ensure crew and pilots did not wear perfume or cologne. Photo / Daniel Eledut, Unsplash
So, why would crew be banned from spritzing their favourite perfume before or during a flight? For the same reason they could not gargle mouthwash or use tooth gel; it could produce a positive breathalyser test.
In many perfumes, ethyl alcohol is a key ingredient, meaning crewmembers wearing a scent could give a positive test result even if they are completely sober.
The addition may seem overly cautious but is in keeping with the CAR’s current level of stringency towards alcohol consumption, which requires all airlines flying out of India to breath test every crew member before departure. Typically, these tests are recorded on camera and held for six months, the Hindu reported.
This level of stringency isn’t without good reason as 116 cabin crew and 41 pilots were temporarily suspended in 2022, after returning positive breathalyser tests.
As a protection, CARs provide recommendations around how much crew should drink even when they aren’t working.
“Even 12 hours after a bout of drink, when blood alcohol level remains zero, there is decrement in task performance,” one section states. “Alcohol present in body even in small quantities jeopardises flight safety on several counts and is likely to adversely affect an aviator well into the hangover period.”
While trace amounts of perfume or other alcohol-containing products don’t necessarily trigger a positive breath test, the possibility does exist, which prompted India’s DGCA to propose the addition.
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