DGCA Stands Firm On Pilot Duty Norms Deadline; Airlines Urged For Compliance By April 15

DGCA Stands Firm On Pilot Duty Norms Deadline; Airlines Urged For Compliance By April 15

The new norms, to come into force from June 1, provide for rest time for pilots and seek to alleviate pilot fatigue.

PTIUpdated: Saturday, March 16, 2024, 01:25 PM IST
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Aviation regulator DGCA has decided not to extend the June 1 deadline for implementing the revised flight duty norms for pilots and asked airlines to submit the revised schemes by April 15, according to a communication.

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), comprising Air India, SpiceJet and IndiGo, had written at least twice to the regulator seeking more time for implementation of the revised Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) norms were issued on January 8.

The new norms, to come into force from June 1, provide for rest time for pilots and seek to alleviate pilot fatigue.

In a communication to the FIA, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that airlines have to take all necessary steps to roll out the revised FDTL CAR, with effect from June 1, 2024.

Further, the carriers have been asked to ensure that the FDTL schemes in tune with the revised norms are submitted for approval by April 15.

Revised flight duty time limitations (FDTL) norms

The revised norms provide for increased weekly rest time to 48 hours for pilots and limit the number of landings to two during night operations.

Besides, the night hours for pilots will be extended to cover the period from 0000-0600 hours, whereas it was 0000-0500 hours earlier.

Also, all airlines have to compulsorily submit quarterly fatigue reports, which "should follow a non-punitive and confidentiality policy".

"The CAR (Civil Aviation Requirement) provisions may appear either restrictive or liberal, depending on its direct impact on the viewing entity, and differing perceptions may be formed, when viewed from the eyes of either the airline operators or the pilots.

DGCA's communication to airlines

"While perceptions may vary, DGCA is primarily concerned in ensuring safe operations and practices that are best suited to the unique operating environment prevailing in India," the communication said.

According to the DGCA, the time frame for implementation of the revised CAR was arrived at after taking into account the lead time involved for operators to put in place the necessary change management steps, including crew recruitment, crew training and other attendant logistical arrangements.

Alleviation of flight crew fatigue is the core philosophy behind the revised FDTL norms, and the perspective planning framework of airlines will adequately cater to meeting the requirements of the new stipulations, the regulator said.

"The unfortunate instances of pilot deaths in the recent past ostensibly due to punishing roster schedules and consequent cumulative attendant impact on flight crew health and wellbeing is an urgent wake-up call to address these issues without further delay," the DGCA noted.

The draft of the revised FDTL norms was issued in October 2023, and more than 1,500 comments/ objections and recommendations were received from public stakeholders and operators.

"These have been diligently evaluated and the CAR has been promulgated after substantive data analysis and deliberations, taking into account the unique operational environment prevailing in India," the regulator said in the communication.

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