Pilots push for implementation of new duty-rest norms, write to aviation minister | India News

MUMBAI: With the revised rules governing the duty and rest periods for airline pilots kept in abeyance indefinitely, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has endangered pilot and passenger safety, said the Federation of Indian Pilots (FIP) in a letter sent to civil aviation minister on Thursday.
On Jan 08, the DGCA had published a new, revised Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL)__which dictates the maximum duty time and minimum rest periods to be followed when rostering airline pilots for duty, that is.Airlines were given time till June 1 to take steps to implement the new FDTL. But on March 26, the DGCA revised the relevant document__ Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR), that is__ to include a clause under which airlines were given indefinite time to implement the new FDTL.
The FIP letter said that the latest revision by the DGCA has made the regulations surrounding the revised FDTL “a dead letter of the law” as it granted airlines discretionary powers in implementing the revised norms. Such a decision does not serve the interests of pilots and the aviation sector in India,” the FIP letter said. “The health and safety of the pilots cannot be prejudiced for the commercial benefit of the operators (airlines), said the pilots’ letter. The pilots letter pointed out that the revised FDTL was also filed in a writ petition on the subject before the Delhi High Court.
The revised norms for duty-rest period were aimed at managing cockpit crew fatigue-related aviation risks better. On Jan 08, the aviation minister had tweeted that the reforms in FDTL have come after an in-depth analysis of pilot rosters, fatigue-related reports and direct feedback from pilots. He added that the changes were in line with international best practices.
However in the weeks that followed the publication of the new FDTL, the Federation of Indian Airlines, an organisation representing Indian carriers met with the DGCA and sought deferment of the implementation of the new norms. In response, the pilots’ body too submitted a representation to the regulator stating that “the request of the
operators was prejudicial to passenger safety”. The FIP had implored the DGCA to reject such deferment requests made by airlines. “It is regrettable to observe that the DGCA has chosen to disregard the representations made by the FIP,” it said. Without prior consultation with stakeholders, the DGCA proceeded to issue a revised version of the norms on March 26, the FIP letter added.
In August last year, a 40-year old IndiGo pilot suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away in the security hold area of Nagpur airport minutes before he was to board the aircraft to operate a flight to Pune. The sudden death brought to fore a host of fatigue-related issues plaguing airline pilots and had the regulator undertake a review of the existent FDTL norms.
Among the changes introduced in the reformed FDTL was a 12-hour increase in pilots’ weekly rest period, extension of night duty period, limiting the number of night landings to only two as against six earlier and mandating airlines to file quarterly fatigue reports.


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