Air India Hit with ₹80L Fine by DGCA for Neglecting Flight Crew Rest Rules – Travel And Tour World

DGCA fines Air India ₹80L for flouting flight crew rest norms, marking its third penalty in two months for safety and fatigue management violations.

In a significant move underscoring its commitment to ensuring air safety and crew well-being, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s aviation watchdog, levied a hefty fine of 80 lakh Indian Rupees on the nation’s flagship carrier, Air India. The fine was imposed in response to the airline’s non-compliance with crucial flight duty and fatigue management guidelines, notably its failure to allot sufficient rest periods to its flight crew surrounding ultra-long-haul journeys. This development marks the third occasion within a span of roughly two months that Air India, a Tata Group entity, has been penalized by the DGCA, signaling a pattern of oversight issues within the airline’s operational protocols.

This action by the DGCA arrives amidst its firm stance on not extending the deadline set for June 1, aimed at the enforcement of updated flight duty norms designed to afford pilots increased rest periods. The revised regulations are part of a broader initiative to address concerns over pilot fatigue, an issue of growing importance as flight operations become more demanding.

The genesis of this disciplinary measure traces back to a surprise audit conducted by the DGCA in January, where the regulatory body sought to assess Air India’s adherence to Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) and Fatigue Management System (FMS) stipulations. The audit involved a meticulous examination of collected evidence and the analysis of random reports across the airline’s fleet, unveiling lapses in duty time adherence, inaccuracies in training documentation, and instances of duty overlap.

Air India’s operations of ultra-long-haul flights, which typically exceed 16 hours and cover destinations across Canada and the United States, were particularly under scrutiny. These flights demand rigorous compliance with fatigue management norms to ensure the safety and well-being of both crew and passengers.

Following the audit findings, the DGCA issued a show cause notice to Air India on March 1, detailing the violations and seeking explanations for the discrepancies noted. This precedes the regulator’s recent reaffirmation of the June 1 deadline for implementing the revised FDTL norms, a move anticipated to enhance pilot rest times significantly.

The dialogue surrounding these regulatory adjustments has seen participation from various stakeholders, including the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which houses Air India among its members. The FIA had previously petitioned the DGCA for an extension of the deadline to comply with the new norms, underscoring the operational challenges posed by the adjustments.

This series of fines, culminating in the most recent financial penalty imposed on Air India, underscores the DGCA’s unwavering dedication to upholding stringent safety standards within the Indian aviation sector. It also highlights the ongoing challenges airlines face in aligning their operations with evolving regulatory requirements, a balance critical to ensuring the safety and comfort of air travel.

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