The Delhi High Court today sought the response of the Centre and the aviation regulator DGCA on a plea alleging deliberate and callous variations in the Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) of pilots resulting in fatigue.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Centre and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and posted the matter for further hearing on March 20 next year.
"This is very dangerous. These are matters where you (the Centre and the DGCA) need to take steps," the bench said and asked the aviation regulator to place before it the flight timings and duty timings of pilots.
The petitioner, Kerala resident Yeshwanth Shenoy, said that though India had in July 2007 prepared a draft FDTL, it never saw the light of the day as the airline operators opposed it on grounds of commercial loss.
Shenoy also alleged that a watered-down version was notified and implemented in 2012-14.
"However, through Clause 4 of the FDTL of the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), variations were allowed to air operators without any scientific study or risk assessment in violation of their own Regulations," the plea said.
It also alleged that India, through the DGCA, deliberately and wilfully deceived the UN-body International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) through its documentation.
"While India has submitted the FDTL CAR as regulation that governs management of pilot fatigue, it has deliberately not disclosed the variations approved," the plea alleged.
The petition sought to stay all the variations and exceptions approved by the DGCA in violation of the FDTL CAR and being deceptive of the ICAO norms.
It also sought to issue directions to the DGCA that all air operators allow pilot duty as per the current FDTL CAR without any exception/variation.
"As a consequence of such callous, deliberate and fraudulent action of the DGCA, there have been a number of incidents involving Indian Air Carriers both domestic and international and it is only a miracle that none of these incidents converted itself into accidents," it added.
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