Why pilots in India could be banned from wearing perfume

New rules would mean saving the duty-free fragrances for when pilots aren’t working  (Getty Images)
New rules would mean saving the duty-free fragrances for when pilots aren’t working (Getty Images)

New rules could see pilots flying out of India unable to wear their favourite scent as the country’s aviation regulator looks to ban perfumes.

The proposal comes due to concerns over perfume that contains alcohol, which could result in false positives on the pilots’ breathalyser tests.

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation is looking to amend Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) with a new clause that states “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”, according to The Hindu.

Ethyl alcohol is the main component of perfumes in terms of concentration, from 60 per cent up to 95 per cent in some cases, according to perfume brand Les Fleurs Du Golfe. The strength varies depending on the type of perfume, such as eau de Cologne, eau de toilette, or eau de parfum.

India has some of the strictest alcohol rules for crews. Current CAR guidelines, which apply to airlines operating flights out of India, require every member of the flight and cabin crews to undertake pre-flight breath tests for alcohol.

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, reports aviation news website Paddle Your Own Kanoo.

The current CARs warn against drinking too much the night before a shift: “Even 12 hours after a bout of drink, when blood alcohol level remains zero, there is decrement in task performance. 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.”

Earlier this year, a United Airlines pilot was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence after he showed up “staggering” drunk despite claiming he had only had two glasses of wine the night before.

And last week a British Airways pilot lost his job after he allegedly snorted cocaine off a topless woman before he was due to fly a plane full of passengers back to London.