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‘Weight Ends’: DGCA ends gender bias, restores uniform Body Mass Index for crew

Cabin crew members who are overweight under the new guidelines will be given three months’ time to reduce weight. If they fail the second test, they will be given six more months.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2018 08:11 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
DGCA,gender bias,Body Mass Index
India’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is finally tweaking its four-year-old Body Mass Index (BMI) norms that were widely seen as discriminatory, making them uniform for cockpit and cabin crew, irrespective of gender. (File Photo)

India’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is finally tweaking its four-year-old Body Mass Index (BMI) norms that were widely seen as discriminatory, making them uniform for cockpit and cabin crew, irrespective of gender. Previously, there was one norm for cockpit crew and male cabin crew and another, more stringent one for female cabin crew.

BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight -- the higher the number, the more body fat a person has. According to the DGCA’s Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) issued in May 2014, a BMI of 18-25 is considered normal for male cabin crew, while for female cabin crew it is 18-22. A BMI of 25-29.9 for male crew is considered overweight and 30 and above, obese, while for female crew a BMI of 22-27 is overweight and 27 and above, obese.

That is being changed now.

“We will set the same BMI for pilots and crew and there will be no distinction between men and women. We have asked for suggestions but for everyone, the normal BMI is likely to be 18-25, and a BMI above 30 will uniformly be considered obese, ” a DGCA official said. The norms are applicable to all airlines and also critical because crew who are overweight are considered unfit for service.

Crew members undergo their first medical exam on induction. Subsequent checks take place every four years till they turn 40 and every three years till they turn 50, the official added. After that, it is yearly.

Airlines are supposed to categorize cabin crew as ‘fit’, ‘temporary unfit’ and ‘permanent unfit’, according to the guidelines. And only fit crew are allowed to fly.

Cabin crew members who are overweight under the new guidelines will be given three months’ time to reduce weight. If they fail the second test, they will be given six more months.

“This will help some of the grounded air hostesses to rejoin the airline..,” an Air India cabin crew member said. The divide between a woman and man’s BMI should never have been there, but it it’s good that government is realising it now.”

The old rule was affecting Air India the most . There have been instances when Air India crews have been grounded for being ‘overweight’. “Normal BMI is considered between 18 and 24.9 kg/m2 globally, and only if a person crosses that they will come under over weight category. Not before that,” said Dr Amit Goswami, senior consultant, bariatric surgery, Columbia Asia Hospital.

First Published: Nov 29, 2018 08:11 IST