Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 13
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has formulated new rules on watch duty time limitations (WDTL) and rest requirements for air traffic controllers (ATCOs), that are expected to come in force from March 10.
The rules, last revised in 2020, lay down the duty hours for ATCOs and prescribe breaks and rest periods in between duty shifts in order to avoid fatigue and ensure safe and error free operations in guiding aircraft.
These rules, amended to keep the Indian aviation sector in sync with international flight safety standards, were released by DGCA on January 12 and are applicable to all ATCOs, including trainees, engaged in provision of air traffic services.
ATCOs are the crucial link between an aircraft and the ground, manage and monitor air traffic within their area of responsibility and guide the movement of aircraft on ground, while take-off and landing as well as in flight and update pilots on weather conditions and other aircraft in their vicinity.
DGCA has mandated that the duty period of ATCOs shall not exceed 12 hours and there must be at least 12 hours between the end of one shift and the beginning of the next shift.
The aggregate of duty period hours shall not exceed 48 hours in a period of seven days and 180 hours in a period of 30 days. No more than 6 consecutive days of duty shall be worked, the rules state.
Further, if the maximum number of permissible consecutive days of duty is rostered, there shall be a minimum interval of 48 hours between the end of one consecutive period of duty days.
No operational duty shall exceed two hours, without there being a break not less than 30 minutes. Breaks shall include all measures necessary to ensure that ATCOs will not be suffering fatigue.
At places where the workload for any part of the day or night is less than 50 percent of the defined airport arrival rate (AAR) or ATC sector capacity and the flying activity is spasmodic, the operational duty can be extended up to a maximum of four hours.
Similarly, a duty which covers all or part of the period of night shall not exceed 12 hours and no more than two such consecutive night duties shall be allowed. A minimum period of 48 hours shall be provided between the end of one night duty and the commencement of the next period of duty.
DGCA has also provided that in the event of any unforeseen operational circumstances, the air traffic service in charge at the particular station can modify the rules in the interest of safety and effectiveness of air traffic control and obtain ex-post facto approval.
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