Pilots' Lives At Risk
India Legal|November 11, 2019
A petition has been filed against a new CAR which increases the flight timings of aviators and reduces their rest periods. Is this a recipe for disaster and will it jeopardise passenger safety?
Shobha John

SLEEPLESS in the cockpit” can be the new buzz word for exhausted civilian pilots in India. It is an issue that has exercised the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), airlines and pilots for years. And courts have repeatedly pulled up airlines for violating laws which govern flight duty time limitations (FDTL) and rest periods of pilots. The turbulence refuses to die down despite numerous petitions and studies by aviation medicine experts which have said that being alert or slee py can make all the difference between life and death in the aviation sector.

FDTL was implemented by the DGCA in 2011 after the Air India Express crash in Mangalore (2010) which killed 158 passengers. Pilot fatigue was found to be the cause of it. After this, a government committee under former DGCA head Dr Nasim Zaidi was formed which gave an exhaustive report which scientifically looked into FDTL and rest requirements for flight crew and had aviation medicine specialists from the In di an Air Force. The panel had categorically said: “Sleep and fatigue science has unequivocally established the role of adequate rest in mitigating fatigue.”

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