Airline Operators must submit Quarterly Tiredness Reports: DGCA

By Consultants Review Team Tuesday, 09 January 2024

The civil aviation authority, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), issued a flurry of regulations on flight duty time limitations (FDTL) on Monday to manage fatigue among flight crew. Increased rest hours, redefining night duty, and limiting flight timings and landings at night are all part of the FDTL requirements.

These reports must indicate the actions taken in response to such reports. It has also been suggested that these reports be conducted in a non-punitive and confidential manner. The restrictions will go into effect on June 1, 2024, providing airlines enough time to adapt to the changes by considering logistics, system improvements, and other essential arrangements.

According to a Ministry of Civil Aviation statement, these measures have been implemented to alleviate pilot fatigue, improve overall flight safety, and balance this with the predicted expansion of the Indian aviation sector. In addition, the civil aviation regulator is considering implementing the Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS). The FRMS is a data-driven technique for improving flight crew fatigue monitoring and reporting.

Night duty has been extended from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., as opposed to 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. under the prior regulations. "This enhancement of one hour during early morning will ensure adequate rest and also align the night duty period which encompasses Window of Circadian Low (WOCL) from 0200-0600 hours i.e. the time during which the circadian body clock cycle is at its lowest in terms of alertness," the company said in a release.

The amended standards have also taken into account various types of operations across time zones. The maximum flying time and flight duty period for operations lasting more than one night have been set at eight and ten hours, respectively. The number of landings during night operations has also been reduced to two from six under previous standards. Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia told news agency PTI that the new set of norms on increased rest periods for pilots and flight timings comply to international standards.

"We are putting in place a new set of rules to ensure 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 to 1200 hours, to 0500 hours."

"We are looking to expand that period, which is going to be the night shift period, thereby putting a much more facilitative regime for pilots," he told reporters. He also stated that the DGCA is considering a 48-hour rest period for pilots instead of 36 hours. It was proposed that an airline provide a pilot with a minimum weekly rest period of 48 hours, including two local nights, to ensure that there is never more than 168 hours between the end of one weekly rest period and the start of the next.

After the death of an IndiGo pilot in September of last year, pilot tiredness became a hot topic. The pilot had slumped at the Nagpur airport's boarding gate as he prepared to fly from Nagpur to Pune.

Soon after, IndiGo created a technique to detect pilot weariness using real-time data and predictive analysis. "This initiative is to develop a fatigue detection model that offers detailed insights into demographic data, including routes, pairings, crew profiles, and more, going beyond traditional scheduling-focused bio-mathematical models," a statement from the airline read at the time.


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