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Post Info TOPIC: DGCA mulls removal of flying time limits to address pilot shortage


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DGCA mulls removal of flying time limits to address pilot shortage
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DGCA mulls removal of flying time limits to address pilot shortage

Raghvendra Rao

Posted online: Saturday, November 04, 2006 at 0000 hrs IST

With the problem of pilot shortage in the country assuming alarming proportions, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is now mulling allowing pilots to fly five more hours per week on both domestic and international routes. Curiously though, the number of landings a pilot can make in a day on the domestic circuit is being brought down from six to five.

The proposals have been made in a bid to lay down rules for airline operators regarding the flight duty time limitations and flight time limitations (FDTLs & FTLs) for crews. Till now, only an Aeronautical Information Circular, regarded more of an advisory, was in place. Now, DGCA has invited comments from airline operators and professional bodies by November 17 on the proposed changes to be introduced in the FDTLs & FTLs.

Flight duty time (FDT) has been defined as the total time starting from the time of reporting at the airport for operating a flight and ending 15 minutes after termination of flight or a series of lights. Flight time (FT) is the total time from the moment the aircraft moves for the purpose of take-off to the moment it comes to rest at the end of a flight.

In the draft Civil Aviation Requirements (CARs), the DGCA proposes:

• To increase the Flight Duty Time for domestic air operations (including those to neighbouring countries) to 12 hours as against the current 11 hours during a period of 24 consecutive hours.

• To increase the weekly cap on Flight Time from 30 hours to 35 hours for both domestic as well as international operations.

• That no crew member on a domestic flight should make more than five landings in any 24 consecutive hours. Earlier, six landings were permitted.

In addition to the rest based upon their flying in 24 consecutive hours, DGCA also wants airlines to ensure that all pilots are given a weekly 24-hour rest (encompassing a period between 2300 hours and 0500 hours) to ensure a proper night's sleep.

Further, the new CARs propose to provide additional hours of rest everytime a flight crew exceeds the FDTLs and FTLs. According to the DGCA, a crew should be compensated with six hours of additional rest if they exceed these limitations by upto an hour, 12 hours for exceeding limits between 1-2 hours and 16 hours additional rest for exceeding the limitations between 2-3 hours.

“By allowing an increase in FDT by an hour and FT by five hours a week, the government may enable the airlines to optimise the services of their pilots. However, fatigue is a major area of concern and should be taken care of,” a private airline pilot said.

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