DGCA implements watch duty time limitation norms for air traffic controllers at 57 airports

Significant reform in the civil aviation sector that will provide adequate rest to air traffic controllers (ATCOs) while engaging in provision of the air traffic services, says aviation watchdog

September 22, 2023 04:50 am | Updated 04:50 am IST - New Delhi

File image used for representational purpose only.

File image used for representational purpose only. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

In a significant move, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday said regulations for watch duty time limitations and rest requirements for air traffic controllers have been implemented at 57 airports, including Amritsar, Coimbatore, Patna, and Imphal.

The implementation of the norms will ensure that air traffic controllers will get adequate rest while carrying out their duties.

The regulations regarding “Watch Duty Time Limitation [WDTL] and rest requirements for Air Traffic Controllers [ATCOs]“ are being implemented at the 57 airports from Thursday, the aviation watchdog said in a release.

An operational duty time for an ATCO should not exceed two hours, without a break of at least 30 minutes. The break can be taken during the duty period or at the end of that period, as per the regulations.

"The breaks for operational duty on circumstances beyond two hours...shall be taken on pro-rata basis (eg. 45 minutes after 3 hours or 60 minutes after 4 hours)," the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) stated.

According to the regulations, breaks shall include all measures necessary to ensure that ATCOs will not be suffering fatigue.

"A total relief from exercising the privileges of ATCO's license, including coordination with other ATS (Air Traffic Service) units, supervisory roles shall be considered as a break," it added.

The CAR also specifies a limit on duty period and the interval between duty period and night duty.

According to DGCA, the norms are modelled on ICAO regulations and based on the country's national, social and cultural contexts, coupled with scientifically valid, optimal duty time limit for ATCOs. ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

"This is a significant reform in the civil aviation sector and will provide adequate rest to ATCOs while engaging in provision of the air traffic services. The maximum permissible duty period and minimum mandatory rest period for ATCOs has been given a shape in the form of regulations," the release said.

DGCA said the regulations will be implemented at other airports in a phased manner as per the roadmap indicated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Currently, the norms are being implemented at nine airports in the northern region, 15 in the southern region, 12 in the western region, 11 in the eastern region and 10 in the northeast region.

Apart from Amritsar, Coimbatore, Patna and Imphal, other airports include Dehradun, Shimla, Kanpur, Trichy, Calicut, Kannur, Tirupati, Indore, Surat, Udaipur, Bhubaneshwar, Gaya, Dimapur and Agartala.

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