GoAir cancels flights for second day in a row amid pilot shortage

Topics GoAir | Pilot shortage | DGCA

GoAir cancelled around twenty of its scheduled 330 flights on Tuesday because of non-availability of pilots caused by previous schedule disruptions and implementation of new regulations on pilot duty time.

GoAir will face action for not providing rest to its pilots in line with rules, said a senior Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official.

The Mumbai-based airline has over 300 captains (including 65 expat pilots) and an equal number of first officers and is currently operating 48 of its 54 planes, sources said.

DGCA regulations specify the number of hours a pilot can fly in 24 hours, number of landings they can make and minimum rest period  prior to a flight. The rules are designed to minimise pilot fatigue. "We are checking details of all the flights operated by the airline from November 1. We have found certain violations and we are checking whether these are administrative or safety-related," said a DGCA official. The regulator is also checking if software glitches contributed to the problem. 

The amended regulations were to come into effect from May 1 and airlines were given time to plan their crew requirements. The actual implementation of new rules began from November 1.

GoAir sources said very little time was available for transition to new rules, for making software changes and sensitising pilots and operational staff as their operation manual was approved only in October last week. Some airlines, including GoAir and IndiGo, had also requested the regulator to allow a few weeks for validating changes, a request the regulator had denied. 

A DGCA official said that an airline cannot give excuses for non-adherence citing it is first day or first week of implementation and added that action will be taken against those responsible.

"GoAir has been asked to set right its practices. We may carry out another audit to check implementation," he added.
On Tuesday DGCA officials held meeting with GoAir executives to seek an explanation on the issue. The airline has also informed the regulator about its flight cancellations.

Last month the DGCA had carried out an audit to check whether airlines were following the rules regarding duty hours. Checks were carried out at IndiGo, SpiceJet and Alliance Air but maximum violations were found in GoAir. 

GoAir did not comment on the findings of the DGCA audit.

Earlier in a statement the airline said  a combination of factors such as inclement weather and low visibility in certain parts of the country disrupted multiple flights across GoAir's network.

"This was further aggravated with flight duty time limitations (FDTL) of the crew.  The airline has initiated all possible steps to minimize inconvenience to the passengers.  Alternate flight arrangements are being explored to minimize the impact. Free cancellation and re-booking options have been offered to all those affected," the airline said.

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