Pilots’ associations have expressed their displeasure over the functioning of crew management system (CMS) and day operations (DOPS) with the Air India management, saying that while they are extending cooperation due to shortage of flying staff, it shouldn’t be misconstrued as their “weakness”.
In a letter to the airline’s Executive Director, Operations, T.P.S. Dhaliwal, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association and Indian Pilots Guild has flagged a number of issues related to their punishing schedules and work fatigue.
“Since the Air India management, in its wisdom, is paying pilots on actual flying hours, the responsibility lies with the operator to distribute the amount of work, especially fatigue inducing duties, equally amongst available flight crew,” they said in the letter.
They have highlighted several issues related to the CMS like no equalisation of night stop flights and international layover flights, and inefficient equalisation of actual flying hours across the bases and the fleet.
They have also pointed out that weekly offs are printed in violation of the Air India FDTL Scheme.
Also there is complete absence of proper rotation of flights, they mentioned in the letter.
Issues related to DOPS, which have been flagged by both the associations, are about manipulation of SOD travel records before flights to overcome crew shortages.
This, they said, is more prevalent in the B777 fleet and needs to end at once.
They further alleged that printed roster is being revised frequently without permission of crew concerned.
“Changes are made to the printed roster without information or consent from concerned pilots,” they said in the letter.
“Controllers are harassing pilots on sick leave to report fit due to a shortage of pilots. This is a serious flight safety concern. On reporting sick, the planned roster is removed for five consecutive days. This is preposterous as the controllers keep hunting for the crew to fill the same pilot’s flights, although they report back to duty in a day’s time. These needless changes to the printed roster lead to a cascading effect,” the letter read further.
“A particular section of pilots are treated indifferently and marked refusal on DTA in violation of roster practices. Any move to discriminate against pilots based on fleet and grade is unacceptable. If this discrimination continues, we will be forced to withdraw our cooperation, and only GM CMS should be held responsible for any disruption of flights,” the associations have warned in the letter.
“Fatigue-inducing duties are set aside for pilots who report sick. Such intimidation tactics will prove fatal to flight safety. Fatigue-inducing duties should be equally distributed as per DGCA CAR FDTL,” they said.
The pilots have expressed hope that “good sense prevails and the management upholds the established norms, regulations and practices to maintain industrial peace and harmony. Instead of confronting the demon at your doorstep, trying to deal with crew shortage by bending the rules and practices is self-defeating”.