Aviation regulator DGCA today proposed a new set of norms for the maximum duty time and rest hours for cabin crew members, prohibiting airlines from deploying a fatigued staff and endangering flight safety.
The latest draft norms prescribe a maximum 22 hours of duty time for cabin crew members operating an ultra-long haul flight (over 16 hours or more), among others.
It also provides for a 36 hours rest in case of the flight crossing eight times zones.
The Delhi High Court had on May 4 granted eight weeks to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to finalise fresh norms on flight duty and rest hours for cabin crew and pilots.
The court also gave the regulator time till today to upload the draft civil aviation requirement (CAR) on flight and duty time limitations (FDTL).
The direction for a fresh CAR had come on a plea by an NGO, Dedicated to Aviation Safety and Health, and some Air India cabin crew members working on long-haul flights, who had challenged the existing 2016 rules on the ground that it did not take into account the fatigue faced by them due to their duty hours and the time they get for rest.
The NGO had claimed in its plea that cabin crew fatigue affected and put at risk their safety as well as those of the passengers.
The minimum rest which must be provided before undertaking a flight duty period will be at least as long as the preceding duty period or 11 hours or 14 hours for crossing three time zones up to eight time zone or 36 hours for crossing eight time zones or whichever is greater, according to the draft FDTL norms.
Also, the period of transportation to and from an airport will neither be counted towards duty time nor rest period, as per the proposed norms.
The DGCA has also proposed that the operator will include in the ‘scheme’ the optimum time of transportation after taking into account various factors and on ensuring that “the rest period does not get reduced below the minimum rest requirements.”
Significantly, the court had taken DGCA to task for allowing airlines to change stipulated FDTLs.
The DGCA has also proposed that an operator will ensure that the minimum weekly rest of continuous 36 hours, including two local nights, is provided in a manner that there will not be more than 168 hours between the end of one weekly rest period and the start of the next.