AI pilots’ unions raise concerns about overtime | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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AI pilots’ unions raise concerns about overtime

By, New Delhi
Jan 30, 2024 09:48 AM IST

According to a person aware of the matter, the letter was sent after some pilots were forced to work overtime too often

Air India pilots’ unions have written to the aviation regulator alleging that the airline was not complying with flight duty time limitations (FDTL), which stipulate conditions on how long a pilot can be on duty to safeguard against fatigue.

Air India CEO and MD Campbell Wilson with cabin and cockpit crew in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)
Air India CEO and MD Campbell Wilson with cabin and cockpit crew in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

In a letter to the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA), the Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) said pilots were forced to work beyond duty hours.

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“It has come to our notice that some pilots are facing intimidation and coercion to extend their FDTL beyond the prescribed limits by DOPS and base managers, including threats of jeopardising their career progression,” the letter dated January 28 read.

The airline did not respond to requests for a comment. DGCA officials did not confirm if they had taken up the matter with the airline.

According to a person aware of the matter, the letter was sent after some pilots were forced to work overtime too often.

“In the past months, it has been learnt that the Delhi based operations team has threatened a few of the pilots when they denied operating flights beyond their duty time limitations,” an airline staffer said, asking not to be named.

The FDTL prescribes limits on duty hours, such as a mandatory break of 36 hours at the end of their work week, and a maximum limit of 13 hours for pilots working night duty. The DGCA on January 8 raised these limits – weekend breaks must be of 48 hours and night duty flying has been capped at 10 hours --- but these come into effect only on June 1.

“We believe that our duty is not only to the company, but also to the safety of the passengers and the reputation of the aviation industry. We request your immediate intervention to investigate these allegations and put any coercive practices related to FOIL extensions. Trust that you will take the necessary steps to address the situation promptly,” the letter to DGCA stated.

An airline staffed added that DGCA rules give liberty to airlines “to extend the FDTL of the crew in extraordinary situations but only if the crew agrees to accept the extension. This is because only the pilot knows his fatigue level and hence he gets to decide if he feels he can operate an additional flight. The airline thus cannot force the pilots. However, a few of the pilots have operated flights only because they were coerced to do so.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    I am a principal correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. I track the aviation and railways ministry. I also write on travel trends. I cover the beats at the national level for the newspaper. Before being in Delhi, I have worked as a journalist in Mumbai as well. My hobbies include trekking and travelling.

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