Pilots across the country want changes to their working hours to avoid fatigue and improve air safety.
Four major associations of pilots, with over 3,000 members across airlines, have written to the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) seeking modifications to the existing 16-hour duty shift.
For instance, a pilot taking off after midnight should have a nine-hour shift while the same person operating a flight at 10 am can fly up to 13 hours.
“The current Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) do not take into consideration a pilot’s body clock,” said Captain Tauseef Mukadam, a spokesperson for the umbrella organisation of the pilot bodies.
The proposal is backed by the Indian Pilots’ Guild, the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (both are recognised by Air India), the Society for Welfare of Pilots (a Jet Airways pilot body) and the Federation of Indian Pilots, which represents pilots across airlines.
Air safety experts claim that about nine per cent of air mishaps worldwide are due to pilot fatigue.
In June, an Air India co-pilot reported for work six hours before schedule, misread instructions from the air traffic controller and nearly ran into a Jet Airways flight taking off from the same runway. Similarly, last year, a Mumbai-bound Air India flight almost reached Goa because both the pilots allegedly dozed off owing to fatigue.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation, too, in March recommended changes to FDTL rules. DGCA head, Nasim Zaidi, was unavailable for comment.