Hundreds of Indian Airline Pilots Join Forces to Address Flying Duty Fatigue

Indian airline pilots are taking a stand to address concerns related to flying duty regulations that contribute to fatigue and potential safety risks. This initiative comes in the wake of a tragic incident where an IndiGo pilot collapsed and passed away before his scheduled flight, shedding light on the need for improved regulations.

Rising Concerns Among Former Pilots

Former pilots, leveraging social media and newspapers, are voicing their worries about the strain that current flying duty regulations are placing on them. Despite airlines adhering to regulatory guidelines, the rapid growth of air travel in India has led to increased pressures on pilots.

IndiGo Pilot’s Tragic Demise

The recent unfortunate death of an IndiGo pilot has further intensified these concerns. India’s largest airline, IndiGo, claims that the pilot had a 27-hour break before his duty and was deemed healthy. Nevertheless, this incident has prompted a deeper evaluation of the existing regulations.

Formation of a Pilot Association

Captain Shakti Lumba, a retired vice president at IndiGo, is spearheading a movement to create an association that addresses pilot fatigue and safety concerns. He has garnered support from hundreds of pilots and intends to collaborate with an existing group of 600 members. Their primary objectives include advocating for compliance with international standards, enhancing flight safety measures, and addressing pilot fatigue issues.

Focus on Safety and Compliance

Lumba emphasizes that the association’s core focus will be on promoting compliance with international aviation standards and recommended practices. Pilot fatigue poses a significant threat to the safety of aircraft operations in India, and the association aims to work with aviation authorities and airlines to address this concern.

Discrepancies in Duty Hours

While regulations in the United States differentiate between daytime and late-night flights, India does not make such distinctions. In the US, flights with two pilots are allowed a maximum duty time of 14 hours during the day and 9-10 hours for late-night flights. In contrast, Indian pilots can be on duty for up to 13 hours within a 24-hour period, regardless of the time of day.

Unique Challenges in India’s Aviation Market

India’s rapid growth in the aviation sector sets it apart as the world’s fastest-growing aviation market. The country is witnessing a surge in new aircraft orders from airlines like IndiGo and Tata group-owned Air India. This growth amplifies the significance of addressing pilot fatigue and safety concerns.

Voices from the Pilot Community

Several Indian pilots have shared their apprehensions about irregular flight schedules and the impact of consecutive late-night departures without sufficient rest. A chat group consisting of over 400 pilots reveals escalating stress levels following the tragic incident involving the IndiGo pilot. Pilots have described consecutive late-night flights as physically draining and have called for reforms in Indian aviation practices.

Airline Responses

Vistara, an Indian airline, acknowledges the importance of managing pilot fatigue and claims to maintain fatigue levels among the lowest in the industry. The airline asserts that pilot duty timings are planned with flexibility to accommodate unforeseen disruptions. IndiGo, operating 1,900 flights daily, asserts that it has implemented a comprehensive fatigue management system aligned with international best practices.

Government’s Vision for Indian Aviation

Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia envisions India, the world’s most populous country, as a global aviation hub with a projected surge in air traffic. This ambition underscores the need for robust regulations that prioritize pilot well-being and flight safety.

(This story has been published from a syndicated news agency feed – Reuters)

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