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SC notice to aviation regulator on pilots flight duty

By:  Tupaki Desk   |   25 Feb 2013 4:00 PM GMT
The Supreme Court Monday issued notice on a petition for contempt of court proceedings against the aviation watchdog for its alleged failure to bring in new norms to regulate pilots' flight duty time limit.

The apex court bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, issuing the notice on the petition, dispensed with the personal appearance of the head of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The court said the government counsel could represent the regulatory agency.

Appearing for petitioner Society for Welfare of Indian Pilots (SWIP), senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi said that by its May 3, 2011, order the apex court directed the DGCA to expedite the process of bringing new civil aviation regulation (CAR) related to flight duty time limit (FDTL) for pilots to minimise fatigue.

"As the process to bring new CAR in existence is going on, the same should be conducted expeditiously in accordance with law," Tulsi said.

Contending that a number of accidents were attributed to the fatigue factor of pilots, Tulsi told the court that the DGCA was more tilted towards the airline operators than concerned with the stress on pilots and its bearing on the safety of the passengers.

Contending that present FDTL was in public domain since Aug 11, 2011, the court was told that the DGCA was deliberately trying not to implement the new FDTL by giving "false and frivolous reasons such as delay due to seeking of clarification by Air India and Jet Airways".

The plea said that the regulation requires minimum rest for pilots prior to operating a 12-hour flight traversing less than three time zones, among other issues.