In an order that is likely to impact the airlines’ scheduling and availability of pilots for rostering and running operations, the Delhi High Court order served to carriers on Monday bars them from any extension of flight duty timings of pilots.
In an order that is likely to impact the airlines’ scheduling and availability of pilots for rostering and running operations, the Delhi High Court order served to carriers on Monday bars them from any extension of flight duty timings of pilots. The court also directed the civil aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, to adhere to the Rule 42A of the Aircraft Rules,1937, which is the guiding principle for airlines to mitigate fatigue of the cockpit and the cabin crew for ensuring safety of flight operations. The Delhi High Court heard a public interest litigation (PIL) related to pilot fatigue and based on the arguments has ruled that the DGCA would have to undertake the examination of the existing CAR 2011, which determines duty hours and rest periods of pilots in accordance to the provisions of the Rule 42A and Rule 133A within a period of one year.
These Rules that have been stipulated in the CAR were meant to ensure the alertness of pilots and also to keep them mentally and emotionally stable so that safety of operations is not compromised because of their state of fatigue. Rule 42A, barring exceptions, does not allow a pilot to fly for more than 125 hours during any period of 30 consecutive days, a rule that petitioner Yeshwant Shenoy said airlines are continuously flouting due to a profit motive, endangering passenger safety.
But due to some changes that were made in these rules in 2016, airlines sought exemptions from the DGCA on various grounds, including shortage of pilots. The relaxations, sources suggest, were aimed at maximising utilisation of resources (pilots) that are expensive. Airlines have been stretching this duty time, crimping rest periods of pilots. With the latest ruling, airlines will not be allowed to extend the duty time that a pilot is allowed to fly, and airlines will not be able to roster duties for pilots who have two consecutive night operations, thus hitting long haul operations of airlines such as Jet Airways and Air India.