Fatigued crew members may jeopardise passengers’ safety

Prateek Goyal
Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Pune: There have been scary incidents reported of aircraft doors being found open mid-air, crew opening the door in auto mode after landing, and even psychological stressed crew, which have adversely affected safety of airborne passengers. 

Pune: There have been scary incidents reported of aircraft doors being found open mid-air, crew opening the door in auto mode after landing, and even psychological stressed crew, which have adversely affected safety of airborne passengers. 

It has been discovered that fatigue due to excessive flying was a primary reason behind such incidents. However, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) doesn’t seem to pay heed to these incidents and is not taking any action in this regard despite a recent High Court order directing to bring down the Flight Duty Time Limitation of cabin crew to provide them enough rest so that safety of passengers doesn’t get jeopardised.

The DGCA is not learning a lesson from aviation accidents across the world, which occurred due to the fatigue of flight attendants caused due to excessive flying hours and is seen favouring the operators, who make their crew fly excessively to maximise profits. 

The DGCA order is an indication of their motive, as they removed the name of cabin crew from their order, which was released in the wake of the Delhi High Court’s order, which clearly stated to bring the Flight Duty Time Limitation (FDTL) of Cabin to 12 hours from the previous FDTL of 15 hours.

The Delhi High Court, in its order dated April 18 in response to the petition filed by Yashwant Shenoy in relation to FDTL of pilots, stated, “So far as fatigue management of flight crew and cabin crew members is concerned and to specify ‘the maximum limits of flight time, flight duty period and duty period of flight crew members as well as cabin-crew members and also the minimum rest periods required to be observed by such crew members’ after taking into account the likely impact of fatigue on the alertness of flight crew members and cabin crew members.”

The order stated that the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR), 2011, makes a prescription of the FDTL, the same shall continue to top guide all decisions with regard to the schedule of the flight and cabin crew till such time any alteration or modification is effected by the Director General. The DGCA CAR of 2011 would continue to apply for a year or till such time as amendments are made in Rule 42A of the Aircraft Rule 1937 by the Legislature.

However, despite the court order that CAR, 2011, applicable to flight crew will be applicable to cabin crew and will bring down their FDTL, DGCA in its order dated May 2, 2018, in which it has directed all airlines to submit the revised FDTL scheme to the DGCA with in a period of seven days, has not mentioned the name of cabin-crew.

As per the High Court order regarding the recent direction about flight safety. As per the DGCA CAR, 2011, the FTDL of the cabin crew will come down to 12 hours, they don’t have to fly two consecutive night flights, their rest period will on par with pilots, two sets of cabin crew will have to be provided on long range flights, Bunks or executive class seats separated from the passenger cabin have to provided on long range flights.

Sources informed that DGCA doesn’t want operators to suffer loss and have not included the name of Cabin Crew in its order purposely. A Cabin Crew with Air India, on the condition of anonymity, said, “Despite the court order, DGCA has removed the name from its order. Crew is responsible for flight safety as well as in-flight service and it’s a tenuous job. It does cause fatigue and affects our working. When we are back from US flights or flight coming from the West, airline gives us minimum rest and sends us again to east bound flight. It takes a tool on you as you cross different times zones. Without adequate rest, it takes a toll on you and also affects flight safety.”

“We have right to file fatigue reports. but if in case someone files fatigue reports, he/she is punished by assigning domestic flights and will not be given international flight,” added the crew member.

A female crew member from Air India said, “Flying consecutively for two nights, exceeding FDTL and then again going on a flight is not only hazardous for flight safety but it also affects a person’s health and disturbs him/her psychologically. A crew has to  take care of passengers in the flight, has to do meal services and has to deal with medical emergencies in flight. It becomes hectic.”

When contacted, BS Bhullar, Director, DGCA, was unavailable for comment.

Sakal Times also tried to contact Lalit Gupta, Joint Director General, DGCA, but despite making repeated attempts, he didn’t respond.

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