Taking Flight Safety to New Heights: DGCA unveils revised FDTL regulations

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The definition of night duty has been amended to cover the period from 0000-0600 hours, as opposed to the previous 0000-0500 hours



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By Kumar Vikram

New Delhi, January 8: In a major development, aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has introduced significant changes to the Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) regulations for flight crew, aligning them with international best practices. These reforms, effective immediately, mark a substantial leap forward in addressing pilot fatigue, thereby enhancing overall flight safety in India’s civil aviation sector.

The airline operators are mandated to comply with the revised regulations by June 1, 2024. The decision to revise the FDTL regulations stems from a comprehensive data-driven approach initiated by the DGCA. The regulatory body collected and analyzed extensive data, including pilot rosters and fatigue reports submitted by airline operators.

The study identified key areas inducing fatigue, leading to the formulation of revised regulations aimed at mitigating these concerns. Feedback from stakeholders, including airline operators, pilot associations, and individuals, played a crucial role in shaping the amendments.

As per the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the DGCA has a forward-looking approach, envisioning the adoption of a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS). The revised FDTL regulations serve as a stepping stone towards FRMS implementation in India, emphasizing a data-driven approach to enhance monitoring and reporting of flight crew fatigue.

The successful implementation of these reforms requires collaboration among various aviation stakeholders, including regulators, airline operators, and flight crew. The readiness to transition to the FRMS framework will be crucial in ensuring stringent monitoring, record-keeping, and reporting, ultimately contributing to safer skies in the Indian aviation sector.

Key Highlights of the Revised FDTL Regulations

Extended Weekly Rest Periods: Flight crew members will now benefit from increased weekly rest periods, extended from 36 to 48 hours. This enhancement aims to provide sufficient time for recovery from cumulative fatigue.

Night Duty Definition: The definition of night duty has been amended to cover the period from 0000-0600 hours, as opposed to the previous 0000-0500 hours. This change ensures adequate rest, aligning with the Night Duty Period, which includes the Window of Circadian Low (WOCL) from 0200-0600 hours.
Maximum Flight Time, Duty Periods, and Landings during Night: Recognizing different operations across time zones, the regulations restrict maximum flight time and duty periods during night operations to 8 hours and 10 hours, respectively. The number of landings during night operations is limited to two, enhancing overall flight safety.

Mandatory Quarterly Fatigue Reports: DGCA mandates all airline operators to submit quarterly fatigue reports, including the actions taken based on the analysis. Importantly, these reports will follow a non-punitive and confidential policy.

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