Stop Making Sick Pilots Fly
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Shri. P.Ashok Gajapati Raju
The Hon'ble Minister for Civil Aviation
Government of India
Shri. Jayant Sinha
The Hon'ble Minister of State for Civil Aviation
Government of India
I am an airline pilot employed by one of airlines registered in India. As a pilot in possession of a licence issued by the Civil Aviation Regulator DGCA, I have been exercising the privileges of my license to the best of my ability and in the most conscientious manner possible. I am fully aware that when I am at the controls of an airplane, the safety of not only hundreds of passengers in my airplane, but even that of passengers in other airplanes as well as even of those on the ground rests on my shoulders. This Sir, is a responsibility neither me nor any of my colleagues in the profession take lightly.
Sir, recently the DGCA, which comes under your ministry has published a Draft CAR (Civil Aviation Requirement), the subject of which is "Adherence to Flight Duty Assignment by Pilots employed with Air Transport Undertaking". The said CAR is expected to come into effect from 1st Dec 2016 and will serve as a deterrent to pilots who wish to declare that they are physically, mentally or emotionally unwell to operate a flight. The same CAR also warns of strict penal action like permanently or temporarily debarring an individual from holding any license, for deciding not to operate a flight due to any sudden medical ailment .
May I bring to your kind attention that Sub Rule 42-4 of the Aircraft Rules 1937 expressly states that the holder of a licence shall not exercise the privileges of the licence during any period when he/she is aware that his/her physical condition has deteriorated below the standard required. The proposed CAR is therefore in direct contravention of the provisions of the Indian Aircraft Rules.
Sir, the threat of severe penal action, including a direct threat to our livelihoods for abiding with the law is nothing but illegal, ill conceived and a direct threat to flight safety. Pilots will be forced to operate flights even when they are sick and one can imagine the ramifications of this on flight safety. Sir, the regulatory authority should understand that when a pilot reports ' sick', what in effect he conveys is that he is not in a position to exercise the privileges of his license. It should not be misconstrued as anything else.
Subsequent to the ' Germanwings' tragedy in 2015,aviation regulators throughout the world have started to realise the importance of the emotional health of pilots. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) recently even introduced Medical Reforms wherein pilots who hold a certain class of license can self certify their medical fitness to fly. While the rest of the world is making progress our nation has taken a few steps backwards by trying to impose the proposed CAR.
Sir, in this context may I also inform your good self that most of the pilots are not even able to avail the leave due to us due to work pressure. Flight safety will be better achieved if pilots are provided adequate rest to recoup from the ill effects of cumulative fatigue caused mainly due to dynamic rostering which ideally should be an exception but sadly is the norm with many carriers.
This proposed policy appears to have been conceived by vested interests keen on running flight schedules and thus promoting the profits of some unscrupulous private commercial airlines at the cost of public safety .
I earnestly petition you to kindly intervene and put such regressive policies in abeyance so that our skies remain safe.
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