The Indian Government and Regulatory bodies overseeing aviation safety have announced the revision of Flight Duty Regulations for Pilots. These new regulations have given some relief to the pilots. On the other hand, airlines are concerned about this. Details below.
New FDTL Regulations For Indian Pilots
For a long time, Indian pilots were fighting a battle with their airlines behind the doors. Pilots are asked to overwork with a very little increment in salaries. As a result of this, many pilots even lost their lives. Due to the negligence of airlines and their rostering department, some pilots have died. The very recent case was of IndiGo Airlines when a Pilot In Command collapsed at the boarding gate due to a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital, but could not survive.
Considering the pleas of so many pilots, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was convinced to conduct an inquiry in which it found many pilots to be fatigued. As a result, a committee was set up to revise the Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) for pilots.
Global Standard Regulations for Indian Pilots
In order to address and alleviate pilot fatigue concerns through a data-driven approach, the DGCA gathered and examined a large number of pilot rosters in addition to pilot fatigue reports submitted by airline operators. Some of the major factors causing fatigue were identified based on the study and analysis, including the maximum flight duty period, night duty, weekly rest period, and flight duty period extension.
After a thorough data analysis and input from a range of stakeholders, including pilot associations, individuals, and airline operators, the revised FDTL regulations were developed. The regulations have been amended with consideration for the unique operating environment in India, as well as for global best practices (FAA – USA and EASA – EU).
Now, the renewed FDTL rules have been announced. The aim behind this restructuring is to address pilot fatigue and enhance flight safety. Airlines are expected to adopt these new regulations from 1 June 2024. This will ensure that airlines have enough time to make changes in their processes such as hiring and training. Airlines will be able to make appropriate arrangements before adopting the new FDTL guidelines.
Major Changes by DGCA
Before going any further, let us have a look at what are the major changes made in the revised FDTL guidelines.
Increased Weekly Rest Hours
The revised FDTL guidelines have made it mandatory for pilots to have 48 rest hours per week. Earlier, this number was 36. Now, it has been increased to 48 hours.
Night Duty Regulations
The definition of Night Duty has been amended. Earlier, the nighttime covered the period between 00:00 to 05:00 hrs. Now, it has been extended by one hour. Now, night time is considered as 00:00-06:00. The addition of one hour to the early morning shift will guarantee sufficient sleep and coincide with the night duty period, which covers the Window of Circadian Low (WOCL) from 0200 to 0600 hours, or the period when the circadian body clock cycle is at its least alert.
Change in Maximum Landings
Previously, six landings were allowed during night operations. Now, this number has been reduced to two landings. During the night, the maximum flight time and flight duty period have been reduced to 8 hours and 10 hours respectively.
The DGCA also plans to implement the Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS), a new fatigue management regime, in the future. The FDTL regulation revision is a first step towards India’s adoption of FRMS. A data-driven strategy to improve flight crew fatigue monitoring and reporting is called FRMS.
Once the readiness to transition to the FRMS framework has been diligently demonstrated by all stakeholders, the cooperation of various aviation stakeholders, including the regulator, airline operators, flight crew, etc., will be needed to implement strict monitoring, record keeping, and reporting to ensure adherence to an FRMS regime in the future.
Furthermore, DGCA has asked all airlines to submit quarterly fatigue reports. These reports should be confidential.
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said: Many long-awaited changes to our pilots’ flight duty time limits have been implemented. We have revised the “FDTL Regulations” to include longer rest periods, a new definition of night duty, and the requirement that airlines share fatigue reports regularly. This was done after a thorough analysis of pilot rosters, reports of fatigue, and direct feedback from pilots.
Furthermore, we will shortly be moving to a new system of fatigue management called the Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS), which will improve flight crew fatigue monitoring through a data-driven approach. These adjustments, which closely follow global best practices, will guarantee that India has the tools it needs as it gets ready to win the biggest domestic aviation market share in the future.
Source: Public Information Bureau