Less than 10 days after an international pilot body criticised the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for going soft on airlines violating safety rules, the body has raised serious concerns about the aviation regulator’s new draft on crew flight duty timings.
The issue came to light during the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Association (IFALPA) conference at Chiang Mai in Thailand that concluded on Monday.
The body representing more than a lakh pilots across the world said that the draft is not scientifically based. The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) annexure 6 states that rules on flight duty should be formed on the basis of scientific research. ICAO is the global policy maker for air travel and India being a member state should follow its recommendations.
“Aviation regulators in country such as US and the UK which have good air safety record have created the flight duty rules on the basis of research findings assessing fatigue levels of flying crew,” said an IFALPA member requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to talk to the media. The IFALPA is in the course of writing to the DGCA and the civil aviation ministry about the issue.
The Society for Welfare Indian Pilots (SWIP), a body formed by Jet Airways pilots have also questioned the regulator on the same lines. The SWIP has sent a list of queries to the DGCA under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The RTI query has asked the regulator whether it consulted experts on sleep, fatigue, circadian and biorhythm’s for the draft. They have also asked if the draft has been benchmarked against existing scientifically-based flight duty timing rules such as NASA’s CAP 371 or the Federal Aviation Administration’s NRPM.