NEW DELHI: India’s Aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation has made some new norms for flight duty time and rest hours of cabin crew members, fixing a maximum duty period of up to 22 hours in long-haul flights.
The new set of norms came after a directive from the Delhi High Court which said that in case of unexpected operational circumstances, the flight time may be extended up to a maximum of one-and-a-half hours and the duty period for up to four hours.
The senior cabin crew in the plane in consultation with all the cabin crew members will convey their willingness to the ‘pilot in command’ for operating the flight. Only one extra landing may be carried out in the event of a diversion to complete the flight.
The stipulations would come into effect from November 1 this year.
The unexpected operational circumstances would include an “unplanned event, such as unforeseen weather, natural calamity, medical emergency, national requirement for relief and rescue operations (mission oriented), equipment malfunction, runway closure, passenger and aircraft recovery, etc. that is beyond the control of the operator,” the norms spelt out.
They had made it quite clear that an airline shall not require a cabin crew member to perform duties well on a flight if it is known or suspected that the cabin crew member is completely fatigued to the extent that the safety of flight may be adversely affected.
The fresh set of norms were made after a plea by an NGO and some cabin crew members who had challenged in the High Court the existing 2016 rules on the ground that it did not take into account the fatigue faced by them onboard due to their duty hours and the time they get for rest.
It mandate the airlines to keep records of at least 18 months of the duties performed and the rest periods provided so as to facilitate inspection by the airline’s authorised personnel and audit by DGCA officers. The records may be made available to cabin crew on a special request.
The norms specifies that an airline shall ensure the norm that the minimum weekly rest of continuous 36 hours including two local night is provided so that there shall never be go more than 168 hours between the end of one weekly rest period and the start of the next.
The operator shall also provide at least weekly rest at home base.
Period of transportation to and from any airport shall neither be counted towards duty time nor rest period.
For continuous flight time more than 11 hours, the airline shall ensure that a senior cabin crew is always available on duty during the in-flight rest of the other senior cabin crew.
The norms also prescribes the rule that the cabin crew shall not undertake any flight duty between periods embracing 12 AM and 5 AM local time for two consecutive nights except once within a period of 168 hours/7 consecutive days.
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