GURUGRAM- More than two weeks after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) unveiled new measures to address concerns related to pilot fatigue, the pilot unions of Air India (AI) – Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) – have called for urgent intervention from the civil aviation regulator concerning alleged workload exceeding duty hours.
In a letter addressed to the DGCA, the unions emphasized their “grave concern regarding the Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) compliance within Air India.”
Air India Pilots Heavy Workload
The letter, dated January 26, expressed awareness of certain pilots facing intimidation and pressure to extend their FDTL beyond the prescribed limits by DOPS (Directorate of Operations) and base managers, including threats that could jeopardize their career progression.
The unions raised serious concerns, stating that such practices not only jeopardize the safety and well-being of the pilots but also violate established regulations.
According to a source familiar with the situation, the letter was prompted by instances where pilots were frequently coerced into working overtime.
DGCA New Duty-Time Limitation Rule
On January 8, the DGCA announced several measures to address concerns about pilot fatigue, including extending the mandatory weekly rest period for pilots to 48 hours, up from the previous 36 hours.
These measures, aimed at tackling the growing issue of fatigue among flight crews, also included an hour-long extension of night duty (now until 6 am from midnight) and a reduction of the maximum flight duty hours to 10 hours from the previous 13 hours for pilots working at night.
These initiatives were introduced during a period when the Indian civil aviation industry was contending with a shortage of human resources, leading, according to pilot unions, to an increased workload for pilots.
Violation at Workplace
In a letter, the unions affirmed their commitment to maintaining the highest standards of safety and compliance within their organization. However, they expressed concerns that certain incidents were undermining these principles and posing a serious risk to both personnel and the integrity of operations.
The pilots emphasized that if the ongoing violation of forcing pilots to work beyond their duty timings continues, they are “compelled to inform regulatory authorities with evidence, including call records, to ensure transparency and accountability.”
They asserted that their duty extends not only to the company but also to the safety of passengers and the reputation of the aviation industry.
Urging immediate intervention, the pilots requested an investigation into the allegations of coercive practices related to Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) extensions. The letter expressed trust that the necessary steps would be taken to address the situation promptly.
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