‘One shift, one aircraft type’
India’s aviation regulator has found that pilots flying more than one type of aircraft in one duty shift are prone to accidents.
As a result, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a draft on April 30 asking airlines not to roster pilots in more than one type of aircraft in a duty cycle. For instance, a pilot who has flown a Boeing 737 aircraft on a route should not be asked to fly an Airbus 320 in the same shift.
“It is plain logic. You will struggle to drive a Mercedes soon after driving a Maruti,” said Nasim Zaidi, director, DGCA.
Airlines and other stakeholders will have to respond to the draft with suggestions by the end of May.
The regulator’s accident assessment team found that often pilots have to fly different types of aircraft in a single 10-hour shift. In such cases the pilots struggle to adjust to different cockpits and controls.
“We have come across two cases wherein the cause of the accident was the pilots lack of training to handle different cockpits,” said a member of the team requesting anonymity.
Airlines in India use planes of different make. Scheduled airlines largely buy their fleet from big manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus.
Private charter companies acquire planes from several manufacturers such as Cessna, Bombardier, Dassualt and Embraer.
“The makes of the aircraft are quite different. A Boeing aircraft cockpit is different from that of an Airbus plane,” Zaidi said.
The regulator will closely monitor pilot training on different types of aircraft also referred to as type rating, because it found some airlines to be lenient on such courses.
All pilots have to clock a particular number of flying hours in every type of aircraft to get a licence for operation. The draft has asked airlines to submit reports on the type ratings every three months. The DGCA will cancel the licence of the airline and pilot if the reports are not filed on time.