Flight crews will have to continue to put in 10 extra hours of work every week until the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) comes up with new Civil Aviation Requirements (CARs).
These CARS are regulations that govern duty hours of pilots and other crew.
Replying to a petition filed by the Indian Pilots Guild, Additional Solicitor General Darius Khambata told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that the DGCA would have to prepare a draft CAR, publish it on its website, call for objections and suggestions and decide the same before issuing final CARs.
The Indian Pilots Guild challenged DGCA’s decision to allow Air India and Jet Airways to dispense with implementing part of the July 2007 CARs that deal with duty hours of flight crews.
The decision that was taken in May 2008 brought 1992 CARs back into force for the two airline flight crews resulting in hiking their flight duty from 30 hours to 40 hours a week.
The petitioners contended that though flight hours had been increased, the rest time had not been increased proportionately, and this disparity could lead to compromising safety of air passengers.
Their counsel, Rohit Kapadia, contended that DGCA could not escape procedure while altering or modifying CARs.
He said that though DGCA was empowered to dispense with the procedural aspect, the power could be exercised only in extraordinary situations like when people are required airlifted due to sudden warlike situations, and not otherwise.
On the other hand, Khambata pointed out, the petitioners had moved the court belatedly; it took them a year to approach the court.
The division bench of Justice D.K. Deshmukh and Justice N.D. Deshpande, however, observed that the DGCA couldn’t deny the flight crew a hearing as they were affected by the decision.
Considering the aspect, the bench suggested the petitioners submit a representation to DGCA, and circulate a copy to airlines before the authority could decide on the relaxation given to Air India and Jet Airways.
The bench adjourned a further hearing till Wednesday.
The high court also directed Khambata to submit a schedule for adopting new CARs.