The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) should conduct a quarterly audit of duty rosters to address the issue of fatigue among pilots, the Federation of Indian Pilots (FIP) has said.

This is one of the recommendations from the pilot body on the DGCA’s draft regulation on pilot duty time and rest period.

DGCA regulations specify the number of hours a pilot can fly. It also covers aspects like the rest period between two flights. Pilot unions in India have flagged long duty hours, inadequate rest, and fatigue as concerns and have even moved to court against the prevailing norms, seeking a change. A draft of proposed new regulations was issued last month for suggestions and objections.

“Operators might publish rosters, but in practice, these are only nominal. Crew members are compelled to review their rosters every evening, even during rest periods or days off, and are mandated to accept daily changes or risk facing disciplinary measures. 

Scheduling malpractices and inefficiencies stand as the primary causes of mental stress and cumulative fatigue for a significant portion of the crew. To address this issue, it’s recommended that the DGCA conduct quarterly audits to evaluate fleet-wise roster stability,” FIP said in its representation to the DGCA this week.

The pilot body said the regulations should be aligned with international standards and has also called for guidelines to assess impact of radiation on pilots’ health.

“Requirements must extend beyond fatigue management, encompassing the long-term physiological and psychological well-being of pilots,” FIP has said and urged DGCA to mandate the carriage of dosimeters on long haul flights to measure ionizing radiation exposure.