Colombo, August 23 (NIA): The Airline Pilots’ Guild of Sri Lanka (APGSL) on Tuesday endorsed the suspension of the license of Sri Lankan Airlines pilot, Capt.U.B.U.Ranaweera, who was found to be too intoxicated to fly the Frankfurt-Colombo flight on August 19.
The discovery of the intoxication by two of his colleagues and the subsequent breathalyzer test carried by the Frankfurt airport authorities had led to a 15 hour delay of the flight. The passengers had to be given compensation as per European Union rules.
“The APGSL has always placed its first priority on the safety of passengers, and does not aim to defend or protect its members against violations of international laws or codes of conduct which endanger the lives of passengers or compromise the safety of the aircraft,” the APGSL said in a statement.
“In the extremely rare event such incidents occur, the APGSL fully co-operates with the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka and all other local and international regulatory bodies to ensure that all necessary disciplinary and remedial procedures are efficiently carried out, and also works towards ensuring that such incidents do not occur again.”
“The isolated incident of a Sri Lankan Airlines pilot being found unsuitable to fly an aircraft due to intoxication should not be seen as a reflection on the profession or the professionalism of airline pilots in Sri Lanka”.
“Passenger and aircraft safety is of paramount importance and our members are trained to report any person or incident which may endanger the lives of passengers or the state of the aircraft despite any position, personal friendship or seniority that is enjoyed between those relevant persons,” the APGSL said.
The Guild commended the two First Officers, Nuwan Gunaratne and Shane Livera, “for their vigilance, professionalism and due application of training received in following the proper procedures to ensure the safety of their passengers”.
“Prior to accepting the aircraft for the flight, the two Co-Pilots believed that the Pilot was not in a suitable state to fly the aircraft, and alerted the Sri Lankan Flight Operations Management. The Flight Operations Management immediately executed the necessary procedures and informed the authorities.”
“Thereafter, the relevant checks were carried out by the authorities to determine if the Pilot in question was in fact fit for duty, and the said Pilot was allegedly found to be unfit to operate the aircraft.”
“These events resulted in a 15 hour flight delay. It is important to note that this incident occurred well outside the vicinity of the aircraft and boarding gate, and that there was no potential danger of the said Pilot gaining access to the aircraft.”
Appeal To Public
Asking the flying public not to lose faith in them, the Guild said: “The isolated incident of a Sri Lankan Airlines pilot being found unsuitable to fly an aircraft due to intoxication should not be seen as a reflection on the profession or the professionalism of airline pilots in Sri Lanka”.
“The airline piloting profession is one of the most highly scrutinized careers, and airline pilots’ professionalism has contributed to making flying the safest form of passenger transportation, the Guild emphasized. Airline pilots in Sri Lanka safely fly over 10,000 passengers a day, and have one of the best safety records in commercial aviation history.”
Show Cause Notice
Earlier on Monday, the Director General of Civil Aviation, H.M.C.Nimalsiri, suspended with immediate effect, the pilot’s license of Capt. U.B.U.Ranaweera. Through a letter, he was asked to show cause within seven days as to why his Airline Transport Pilot License should not be revoked.
“You are alleged to have contravened the stipulations in the Implementing Standard-035 on the Prohibition of use of Alcohol or Psychoactive substances by personnel holding License Ratings or Certificates, engaged in Safety and/or Security Sensitive relating to Civil Aviation”.
“In view of the seriousness of alleged violation on the published requirements relating to flight safety, the Airline Transport Pilot License number ATPL/A/267 issued to you, is hereby suspended with immediate effect under the powers vested in this office in terms of Air Navigation Regulations pending further investigations,” Mr Nimalsiri said.