Monday, January 23, 2023

DGCA sets new rules for duty timings of air traffic control employees

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) rejected the Airports Authority of India (AAI) proposal to provide relaxation for airports with fewer flights in order to enable it to overcome a manpower shortage and instead issued new rules for the duty hours of air traffic controllers, as per a report in .

Although a version of these rules was initially announced in November 2020, the AAI found it challenging to comply with them because it required more staff to offer the required rest period. Since then, it has requested exemptions five times and suggested various duty hours for four distinct types of airports based on the volume of air traffic they handle: large airports, or those with more than 400 flights per day, as well as airports with up to 100, 30, and 10 flights per day.

The “watch duty time limitations and rest requirements”  set forth by the DGCA on January 11 for controllers state that an air traffic controller's shift cannot last longer than 12 hours. A controller may only be given a duty assignment that totals no more than 48 hours in a week or 180 hours in a month. A controller needs 12 hours of rest in between each duty period, according to the aviation regulation. A controller can only be rostered for a maximum of six days in a row, says the report.

Further, they are required to take a 30-minute break every two hours. However, at airports where the workload is less than half the airport's capacity the break can be taken on pro-rata basis - to last 45 or 60 minutes after three or four hours.

The DGCA has for the first time outlined the responsibilities of the Air Traffic Service in-charge for ensuring implementation, including publishing a roster five days in advance to give controllers time to plan their rest and ensuring they do not perform administrative tasks after their shift has ended.


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