Pilots across India could soon be barred from wearing perfume under new rules being considered by the country’s civil aviation regulator.
The reason behind the potential ban isn’t because perfume could put off pilots or even cause headaches but because the alcohol content in many fragrances could trigger a false-positive breathalyzer test result.
India has some of the strictest alcohol rules for aircrew, and both pilots and cabin crew are regularly subjected to pre-flight breathalyzer tests. Even the tiniest trace of alcohol is considered a positive result and can result in an immediate three-month licence suspension.
In 2022, 41 Indian pilots and 116 cabin crew had their licences temporarily suspended after testing positive for alcohol. In some cases, the crew members had tested positive for a second time and were suspended for an entire year.
The rules are designed to prevent aircrew from working when impaired through alcohol, but the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has recently tabled an amendment to its regulations which would ban crew members from using common everyday products like mouthwash or perfume with alcohol in it.
The DGCA says these common products could trigger a false-positive result. The effect of the rule change could close a legal loophole used by crew members to avoid a licence suspension.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.