SINGAPORE: Pilots with Singapore Airlines (SIA) are not allowed to consume alcohol within 10 hours from their flight duty, and there are stiff penalties set out in the Air Navigation Act if they are found to be under the influence of any psychoactive substances.
“Our flight crew are prohibited from consuming alcohol within 10 hours from their flight duty,” said an SIA spokesperson on Monday (Sep 17) in response to Channel NewsAsia’s queries.
“As the safety of our customers and crew is of utmost importance, substance or alcohol abuse will not be tolerated.”
The issue of alcohol consumption surfaced after an SIA pilot was suspended on Saturday for failing a random alcohol test conducted by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority. This resulted in the cancellation of flight SQ247 from Melbourne to Wellington.
On its part, SIA said it does not conduct random alcohol or substance tests.
“While no random alcohol or substance tests are conducted by Singapore Airlines, our flight crew are required to undergo any drug and alcohol tests by the relevant authorities,” said the spokesperson.
“In addition, our pilots also undergo a stringent medical check annually to ensure that they are fit to operate an aircraft.”
Singapore’s Air Navigation Order states that pilots shall not fly if they are under the influence of any psychoactive substance – including alcohol, opioids and sedatives – which may render them unable to perform their duties in a safe and proper manner.
Offenders face a jail term of up to five years, a maximum fine of S$100,000 or both, if convicted.
There is no international standard as to how long pilots should avoid alcohol before they fly as it varies by territories and airlines.
While SIA’s rule is 10 hours, the “bottle to throttle” regulation is eight hours for the US Federal Aviation Administration as well as Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
In India, pilots are not allowed to drink within 12 hours of a flight, as with pilots from Japan Airlines.