The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) asking it why contempt of court action should not be initiated against the regulator for not implementing efficaciously the civil aviation regulations (CAR) with regard to flight duty time limitation (FDTL).
A Bench led by Justice P Sathasivam issued a notice to the top brass and granted it three weeks’ time to reply on a contempt plea by the Society for Welfare of Indian Pilots (SWIP), a body representing 1,000 pilots. It, however, clarified that no senior officer from the DGCA was required to remain personally present at the moment.
Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, appearing for the SWIP, submitted that even though the apex court had passed an order on May 3, 2011 directing the DGCA to bring new CAR for FDTL for pilots to minimise flight fatigue, the regulator had been “very casual”.
Giving details of various accidents, it said that “the incidents of plane crash on account of strict, long, strenuous and arduous schedule of pilots leading to accidents due to sleep loss, work load and fatigue are numerous.”
“It is most unfortunate that in a matter involving safety of millions of passengers, the attitude of the regulator has been so casual and partisan in favour of airline operators who on one pretext or the other are seeking to delay the implementation of the new FDTL. The discrimination is particularly conspicuous against Air India and Jet Airways,” Tulsi argued.
The petition stated that the present FDTL had been in public domain since November 8, 2011 and the operators were given six months time to implement it by adequately preparing manpower and putting in necessary infrastructure.
“The DGCA went over backwards to have numerous meetings with various operators including those of Jet Airways and Air India…the petitioner was never even called for a single discussion even they were the most affected by this entire exercise,” Tulsi argued.
The petition contended that the DGCA have “selectively implemented CAR with regard to FDTL which is not being implemented on 58 international routes on the pretext of having referred the matter to government of India. The DGCA’s approach to FDTL so far has been that of cutting the foot to fit the shoe at the cost of passengers’ safety.”