DGCA looks to regulate duty period for instructors | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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DGCA looks to regulate duty period for instructors

Mar 20, 2024 08:26 AM IST

Duty period is the time spent doing any type of duty by a flight instructor-- administrative, ground briefings, flight instruction, or even waiting between two flights

New Delhi After revising the flight duty time limitations (FDTL) for airline crew, which comes into effect from June 1, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has constituted a committee to prescribe limits for the cumulative duty period for the flight instructors at training schools in the country, officials aware of the matter said, adding that the aviation regulator was in the process of drafting rules for instructors in order to ensure they aren’t overworked.

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The move comes at a time when the impact of fatigue for flight crew is being addressed widely by global civil aviation regulators, and the country has witnessed least 31 flight incidents, including accidents, of the trainee aircraft till 2022, the DGCA and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau said in response to two RTIs filed by the owner of a flight training organisation, which HT has seen.

“DGCA is in the process of forming a flight duty period for the flight instructors of FTOs (flight training organisations) with an aim to have safe skies for trainee aircraft. The draft rules will be prepared soon,” an official with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Duty period is the time spent doing any type of duty by a flight instructor-- administrative, ground briefings, flight instruction, or even waiting between two flights. As per the rules, DGCA must have regulations for all the flying crew (scheduled airlines, non-scheduled general aviation, flight training organisations). However, there are no duty period limitations in place for instructors working at FTOs.

“In the absence of regulations, flight instructors end up working almost 12 hours a day, six days a week and, resultantly, they are more fatigued than airlines or air charter crew. The duty time limitations of all the other crew are defined; (1,800 hours per year and FDTL, or flying hours, is 1,000 hours per year),” an official said, asking not to be named.DGCA did not comment on the matter.

DGCA announced in January that the new rules, effective June 1, will extend the minimum weekly rest period of crew from 36 hours to 48 hours, and revise the definition of night duty from 0000-0500 to 0000-0600. The new regulations have capped the maximum flight time and maximum flight duty period for flight operations at night to eight hours flight time and 10 hours flight duty period, respectively.

The maximum number of landings has been reduced to two landings, down from the maximum permissible six landings under previous regulations during night operations.

India has around 45 DGCA-approved training schools, with an average of at least 200 instructors, an official aware of the development said, requesting anonymity.

The issue, some experts said, has been long pending. A petition seeking the proper implementation of a rest period of training instructors at FTOs was filed by owner of Falcon Aviation Academy Harsh Vardhan Pratap Singh, in November last year.

“Despite the increasing number of accidents and deaths in FTOs, DGCA has continuously and consciously ignored the requirement of implementing duty period limits applicable to the flight instructors,” Singh said in the petition.

“It is the need of the hour to control quality of training or rather quality assurance. The foundation of learning is established by a trainer therefore the standards of FTO trainers must be high... Unfortunately only the ones who fail to get a job anywhere end up as FTO trainers. Safety is impacted and the airlines suffer due to the quality of students churned out,” said aviation expert Capt Amit Singh, who runs the NGO Safety Matters Foundation.

“There have been a spate of accidents in India involving flying school aircraft while conducting flight training. Safety in aviation is paramount and it can only be achieved if the foundation of the initial flight training is sound,” he added.

“The Training and Procedure Manuals of flight schools approved in the past without ensuring adherence to Duty Period limits is illegal since trainer aircraft don’t have autopilot and the trainees, being learners, cannot act like backup pilots,” an FTO owner said, requesting anonymity said.

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