Triggering a national wide debate, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has twisted the Flight Duty Timing Limitation in favour of the airline companies. As per the new law, the airline companies can extent the duty timings of their staffs including pilots during unfavourable weather condition, medical emergency, technical malfunction and natural calamity.
Earlier, the Delhi High Court held that the DGCA must provide no exemptions to the airline companies from the FDTL. But, later, when the DGCA filed a review petition, the court ordered that the DGCA had the right to give such exemptions to the companies.
Actually, the FDTL is in place to prevent fatigue-related safety issues. All airline companies are supposed to follow the FDTL strictly.
In the original FDTL also, there is provisions to extend the duty timing of the staffs during exceptional circumstances. But, in the original law, there is no clarity in the term ‘exceptional circumstances’.
In a sense, the DGCA has just tried to explain the term ‘exceptional circumstances’. An expert says that by expanding the term ‘exceptional circumstances’, the DGCA has succeeded in turning the FDTL in favour of the airline companies.
Interestingly, the new policy has been introduced as an effort to avoid the inconvenience to passengers. Actually, if the new policy increases fatigue-related safety issues, they are the only people who are going to suffer from it.
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