Indian Airlines Hiring Medically-Suspect Pilots, Says Newspaper
The Times of India says a budget airline, which it did not identify, has rehired a pilot who lost his medical because he's suspected of being epileptic. The newspaper says the condition was spotted during an electroencephalogram (EEG) and it was reported to the pilot and the airline. The newspaper says its sources claim the pilot went to the U.S. to recertify because an EEG is not required unless there is a history of brain injury or disease. The Times says its sources assume the pilot did not mention the failed EEG during the U.S. examination and was given his medical. On his return to India, the same airline that had to let him go for the failed medical rehired him. India's director-general of civil aviation, Kanu Gohain, has promised to investigate. "We will look into the matter. How can he fly in India if he failed medicals here?" Gohain said.
The newspaper also claims that there is a pilot flying in India on a single transplanted kidney. Whether that's a violation of medical regulations isn't clear, but the Times said it's indicative of the desperate shortage of "qualified" pilots as a new "retirement bubble" looms. "After the retirement age was increased from 60 to 65 in 2004, retirements froze for a while as 60-plus commanders continued to fly. But there will be a spate of retirements in 2009. It's also the time when the country will need every single experienced commander it has," Capt Yashraj Tongia of Yash Air, a flying school in Ujjain, told the Times.