Delhi High Court directs DGCA to outline maximum flying hours for pilots

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said the DGCA was bound to comply with the provisions under the Aviation Act and Rules so far as the issue of fatigue of pilots is concerned and to specify maximum and minimum of flying time.

Delhi High Court directs DGCA to outline maximum flying hours for pilots
Representational image courtesy Pixabay

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today directed aviation regulator DGCA to prescribe a specific flight and duty time limitation (FDTL) relating to scheduling of flight and cabin crew without any deviations.

The court's direction came while disposing of a PIL which raised the issues of pilot and aircrew fatigue, while the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said variations were being permitted as there have been no accidents because of it, and also no pilot has complained of fatigue till date.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said the DGCA was bound to comply with the provisions under the Aviation Act and Rules so far as the issue of fatigue of pilots is concerned and to specify maximum and minimum of flying time.

"As far as the submission of the petitioner that the DGCA has no authority to grant any exemption or deviation from maximum limit of flying timing and duty period is concerned, there is substance in it," the bench said.

It said that DGCA shall prescribe a specific FDTL which should continue to guide all their decisions regarding the scheduling of flight and cabin crew without any deviations.

The court said that the director general is directed to undertake that the existing civil aviation requirements will be amended in accordance with the rules within a period of one year.

The high court had earlier expressed concern over fatigued pilots and cabin crew posing a risk to passenger safety and had taken to task the DGCA for allowing airlines to change stipulated FDTL.

It had said that the DGCA was going against its own Aircraft Rules by allowing such changes and questioned its power to do so.

According to the petitioner, Kerala-based lawyer Yashwanth Shenoy, the maximum flying time is around 125 hours per week and this gets varied according to the requirements of an airline, each of which has a different FDTLs.

Earlier, the Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), which operates the IGI, had told the court that there were 365 obstacles around the aviation hub that may pose a threat to aircraft safety.

Shenoy, in his plea, said he was drawn towards the issue of aviation safety after the 2010 Mangalore air crash. On May 22 that year, Air India Express Flight 812 from Dubai to Mangalore overshot the runway on landing after which it caught fire, the plea has said. Of the 160 passengers and six crew members on board, only eight had survived.

He claimed that the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, the Central Industrial Security Force and the Delhi Police have not taken airport security seriously and buildings and hotels around the airport were operating without complying with conditions.

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