"Promoting the science of aerospace medicine"

26th of February 2013

Supreme Court pulls up aviation regulator over implementation of safety norms (India)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today issued a contempt notice to the Director General of Civil Aviation or DGCA for failing to comply with its orders to implement flight safety norms effectively. 

The top court had directed the DGCA in May 2011 to expedite the process of bringing new Civil Aviation Regulations or CAR to minimise accidents caused by pilot fatigue. 

The DGCA notified new regulations effective February 2012, but has been accused of not ensuring their implementation by all airline operators. 

The new rules mandated that airlines must take into account a pilot's 'duty time' as against just 'flight time'. This means that a pilot's duty hours would include flight time spent as a passenger to report to a port of duty. 

The need for reviewing Flight Duty Timing Limitation or FDTL was brought into focus after the Mangalore plane crash of 2010 in which 158 people died. Investigation reports suggested that the pilot was asleep during part of the flight.

The Society for Welfare of Indian pilots had approached the Supreme Court seeking contempt action against the regulator.

The petitioner's lawyer told the court that the DGCA is selectively relaxing rules for a few private airlines, putting passenger safety at risk. It also argued that the aviation regulator has failed to take action against those airlines flouting the rules.

The top court said it is issuing the contempt notice to get clarifications from the DGCA, but has not mandated its representatives to personally appear in court.