The Federation of Indian Pilots (FIP) has written to Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), urging the implementation of revised Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) for passenger safety. They insist that pilot well-being should not be sacrificed for commercial gain.

In a letter dated March 28, the FIP urged Minister Scindia to intervene and ensure the implementation of the revised regulations, as initially announced. However, this week, the DGCA deferred the implementation of the revised duty time limits for aircrew, prompting further dismay from the pilots’ union.

The FIP, along with other pilot unions including the Air India Pilots’ Union, the Indian Pilots’ Guild, and the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Guild, had previously petitioned the Delhi High Court over duty timings. While revised civil aviation regulations (CAR) were submitted in court, the DGCA’s recent decision to defer implementation has caused frustration among pilots.

According to the FIP, the DGCA also failed to adequately consult with stakeholders, including pilots themselves, before implementing these changes. “The revised duty-rest period norms were intended to address fatigue-related aviation risks among cockpit crews,” said the FIP. “Despite assurances from the aviation minister in January that the changes were based on thorough analysis and international best practices, the DGCA chose to defer implementation without consulting stakeholders.”

The updated duty-rest period regulations aimed to enhance the management of fatigue-related aviation risks among cockpit crews. On January 8, the aviation minister tweeted that the FDTL reforms were based on thorough analysis of pilot rosters, fatigue reports, and direct pilot feedback, aligning with international standards. However, after the publication of the revised FDTL, the Federation of Indian Airlines, representing Indian carriers, met with the DGCA and requested a deferment of the implementation of the new norms.

Furthermore, the FIP expressed disappointment that the DGCA disregarded their representations and issued a revised version of the CAR on March 26. “This revision effectively removes the mandatory requirement for operators to implement the revised CAR before June 1, granting them discretionary powers instead.”

According to the FIP, this latest move by the DGCA not only jeopardises pilot safety but also undermines passenger safety. They stressed that the implementation of the revised CAR is crucial to prevent such risks.