Union voices passenger safety fears | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Union voices passenger safety fears

With only 30-odd Air India pilots reporting for work, the striking union has warned that passenger safety could be at risk if pilots are burdened with excessive work.

mumbai Updated: Apr 29, 2011 01:31 IST
Soubhik Mitra

With only 30-odd Air India pilots reporting for work, the striking union has warned that passenger safety could be at risk if pilots are burdened with excessive work.

Seven of the pilots who have not joined the strike are department heads while 20-odd are newcomers whose employment is yet to be confirmed, said sources on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to speak to the media.

The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA), the union on strike, said it had warned the regulator about the risks involved in burdening pilots with excess work. “We requested the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to monitor if the airline is sticking to flight duty restrictions in order to maintain passenger safety,” said Captain Rishabh Kapur, general secretary, ICPA.

A pilot cannot operate flights for more than nine hours a day, as per the rule. The union warned that if pilots who had not joined the strike were made to operate flights for longer it could cause fatigue and endanger passengers.

The airline spokesperson did not respond to Hindustan Times’ calls. DGCA chief Bharat Bhushan was also not available for comment.

Experts said such monitoring was important. “The DGCA must check pilots’ log sheets. The airline should not be allowed such violations just because it is facing a crisis,” said Captain Mohan Ranganathan, air safety expert.

As a contingency measure on Thursday the national carrier did not schedule 45 of its 320 daily flights and cancelled 71 flights flying in and out of Mumbai.