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Rap over pilot flying hours

New Delhi, Feb. 25: The Supreme Court today issued a contempt notice to the directorate-general of civil aviation and sought an explanation why an earlier order to regulate flying hours for pilots had not been implemented.

A bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and J.S. Khehar sought a response within two weeks, but exempted the DGCA from personal appearance.

Senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi, appearing for the Society for Welfare of Indian Pilots, said although the apex court had asked the DGCA in May 2011 to expedite the process of bringing in new civil aviation regulations, the regulator had failed to comply with the directive.

The new rules mandate that an airline must take into account a pilot’s “duty time” as against just “flight time”.

According to the association, the DGCA had been dragging its feet by claiming that it was in the process of further consultations with the government.

The association had moved the court in 2010 seeking a review of the flight duty time limitation in the context of the 2010 Mangalore plane crash in which 158 people died.

Subsequent investigation reports in the crash had revealed that the pilot had fallen asleep during a part of the flight owing to fatigue.

The pilots contend that although they are expected to work for no more than 6-8 hours, they have been operating flights or spending duty time for over 12 hours.

Also, their travel on international flights while waiting to relieve their colleagues on duty is not considered while determining the duty hours.