AI pilot Unions Flag Concerns Over Duty Timings; Allege Airline's Approach Will Compromise Safety

Air India pilots raise alarms over extended duty hours, with unions ICPA and IPG alleging safety compromises and regulatory violations. They seek immediate action to halt the coercion for extended Flight Duty Time Limitation (FDTL) and uphold aviation safety standards.
AI pilot Unions Flag Concerns Over Duty Timings; Allege Airline's Approach Will Compromise Safety

Air India pilots' groupings have alleged that the airline management is "intimidating and coercing" some of their members to extend flight duty timings beyond the prescribed limits.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) and Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG) have written to Air India Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Campbell Wilson flagging the issues.

In their joint letter, dated January 28, the unions also claimed the airline's approach to extend the Flight Duty Time Limitation (FDTL) for pilots amounts to "compromising" with safety of the pilots besides violating established regulations.

ICPA represents the narrow body pilots while IPG has members from the wide body fleet of Air India.

It has come to the notice that some pilots are facing intimidation and coercion to extend their FDTL beyond the prescribed limits, including threats of jeopardising their career progression, the letter said.

The unions also termed the situation as a matter of "grave concern".

There was no immediate comment from Air India on the letter.

The unions' allegations also assume significance against the backdrop of aviation regulator DGCA, earlier this month, coming out with revised FDTL norms for pilots that provide for increased weekly rest period, extension in night hours by an hour and just two night landings as against six earlier.

Stating that the pilots are "committed" to upholding the highest standards of safety and compliance within the organisation, the letter said, "however, the reported incidents undermine these principles and pose a serious risk to both our personnel and the integrity of our operations".

"We request your immediate intervention to investigate these allegations and put an end to any coercive practices related to FDTL extensions," the unions said in the letter.

The unions have also warned that if these practices persist, they would be "compelled to inform the regulatory authorities with evidence, including call records, to ensure transparency and accountability".

"We believe that our duty is not only to the company but also to the safety of the passengers and the reputation of the aviation industry," it said.

Copies of the letter have been marked to Tata Group and Air India Chairman N Chandrasekaran, Air India Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Klaus Goersch, and Chief of Flight Safety Rajeev Gupta, among others.

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