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Tackling Pilot Fatigue: Scindia Says Proposed Norms Will Provide Facilitative Regime For Pilots

"We are looking to expanding that period, which is going to be the night shift period, thereby putting a much more facilitative regime for pilots," Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said.

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Jyotiraditya Scindia
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The new norms proposed to deal with pilot fatigue, including more rest hours, will help in putting in place a facilitative regime for pilots, according to Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Against the backdrop of rising concerns about fatigue among pilots, aviation watchdog DGCA, in November 2023, proposed various changes to the norms governing duty timings of flight crew, including more rest time for pilots.

Changes have been proposed to the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) pertaining to 'Duty Period, Flight Duty Period, Flight Time Limitations and Prescribed Rest Periods -- Flight crew Engaged in Scheduled Air Transport Operations'.

In a recent interview to PTI, Scindia said that for pilot fatigue issues, the CARs have been relooked at.

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"We are putting in place a new set of rules making sure that pilot fatigue not only conforms to international standards but also due to early sunrise in our part of the world, we look at the night hours on an expanded (basis) as opposed to generally 0100 hours to 0500 hours, we are looking at 1100 to 1200 hours, to 0500 hours.

"We are looking to expanding that period, which is going to be the night shift period, thereby putting a much more facilitative regime for pilots," he said.

The minister also said that the regulator is looking to ensure 48 hours rest as opposed to 36 hours rest period.

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In December, a senior DGCA official said the regulator has received many comments on the changes to the CAR.

Among others, it was proposed that an airline should ensure that the minimum weekly rest of continuous 48 hours, including two local nights, is provided to a pilot such that there shall never be more than 168 hours between the end of one weekly rest period and the start of the next.

The issue of pilot fatigue came to the fore in September last year, especially after the death of an IndiGo pilot, who had collapsed at the boarding gate of Nagpur airport.

Leading carriers, including Air India and IndiGo, have introduced tools to analyse and keep a tab on pilot fatigue.

Last week, Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) said that reporting illnesses without the "fear of reprisal" is in the interest of flight safety.

IPG is the wide-body aircraft pilots' body at Air India while ICPA represents pilots who fly narrow-body Airbus 320 family aircraft of the full-service carrier.

"We are writing to express our concern and objection regarding recent communications implying threats of appropriate measures for sick reporting," the pilot bodies had said in the communication, adding that it is crucial to acknowledge the significance of pilot's health and its cascading effect on flight safety.

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There may be instances where pilots feel "intimidated" or "compelled" to operate flights despite their health concerns, potentially jeopardizing the safety of the flight, as per the communication.

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