Air India pilot unions IPG and ICPA on Saturday expressed "deep concern" over the flight duty and rest period scheme adopted by the Tata Group airline, accusing the carrier of deviating from the DGCA-approved norms.
The two unions -- Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) -- in a joint communication to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation also alleged that the introduction of a side policy, along with the flight duty time limitation (FDTL) scheme, by Air India seems to "undermine the authority and purpose" of the DGCA approval.
The pilot unions have also sought a review and assessment of the issue by the DGCA, requesting it to take appropriate measures to address the matter.
Pilots and cabin crew's flight duty time limitations are governed by the aviation safety regulator DGCA, which proposed more rest hours for the pilots last month.
In recent months, the issue of fatigue has been in focus, especially after the death of an IndiGo pilot, who had collapsed at the boarding gate of Nagpur airport in September. And last month, an Air India pilot during a training session showed signs of discomfort and later died at the Delhi airport.
However, Air India said the pilot was not on active flying duty and was undergoing conversion training to operate wide-body aircraft.
"We are writing to express our deep concern and disappointment regarding recent developments concerning the Flight and Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) scheme at Air India," the two Air India pilot unions said in the communication addressed to the DGCA.
Alleging that there has been a "deviation" from the DGCA-approved Air India FDTL scheme, and an "Air India Rostering practices Policy" has been suddenly framed and implemented by the management from December 1, the letter stated that the "policy is in violation of DGCA CAR FDTL and that it is not part of the DGCA-approved Air India FDTL Scheme.
"The said policy is not approved by the DGCA. The DGCA plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and reliability of civil aviation operations in our country. The approval of the FDTL scheme is a testament to the thorough evaluation and consideration of safety measures to protect both airline crew members and passengers," it added.
"The policy seems to undermine the authority and purpose of DGCA approval.
"We kindly urge the DGCA to review and assess the implications of Air India's side policy on the FDTL CAR. It is crucial to ensure that any changes made by airlines align with the approved regulations and do not compromise the safety and well-being of crew and passengers," the letter noted.
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