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SC throws out pilots appeal, ups flying hours

delhi Updated: May 04, 2011 01:34 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times
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Indian pilots would have to fly for more hours. The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the civil aviation ministry's 2008 order that kept the civil aviation requirements (CAR) in abeyance and revived the 1992 circular fixing rigorous flying hours for the pilots.

A bench of justice P Sathasivam and justice BS Chauhan upheld a Mumbai high court verdict and dismissed the appeal filed by the Joint Action committee of Airlines Pilots Associations of India against it.

The court also directed the ministry to process and implement new CAR "expeditiously" and in "accordance with law."

The direction was made after the government apprised the court that it had in September 2010 accepted the report of an expert committee that was constituted to formulate new CAR.

The ministry has already advised the Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue a draft CAR and invite objections on it.

Till new CAR comes in place, pilots would have to follow the 1992 circular.

The committee of pilots had challenged the "automatic revival" of this circular on the ground that it meant their working hours would be devoid of longer breaks, which were essential to maintain alertness while in the cockpit.

The 2007 CAR were apparently pilot and safety-friendly and provided adequate rest hours between flights, especially long-haul flights that lasted for 12 to 14 hours and criss-crossed several time-zones.

It was put in abeyance on May 29, 2008 after the ministry received several representations against it.

Airlines operators claimed the relaxed working hours would mean hiring of 30% more pilots. On June 1, 2008 the DGCA brought the 1992 rules back in force following the ministry's advice.

Additional solicitor general (ASG) Parag Tripathi, appearing for DGCA, said: "The pilots had raised two-fold objections to the 1992 circular. They claimed it was not issued by DGCA, the appropriate authority and that there could be no automatic revival of the 1992 circular."