The entire senior pilot community needs to serve a notice period of one year post resignation. The notice period for senior pilots was six months till now. The new rules come into effect immediately. The chief of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Mr. BS Bhullar says that it takes eight to nine months to train a pilot and that their resignations cause a lot of operational disruptions. “It has, therefore, been decided that pilots working in an air transport undertaking shall give a ‘notice period’ of at least one year in respect of commanders, and six months in respect of co-pilots, to the employer indicating his intention to leave the job,” said Bhullar.
The DGCA said in an amended Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) that “During the notice period, neither the pilot shall refuse to undertake the flight duties assigned to him nor shall the employer deprive the pilot of his legitimate rights and privileges with respect to the assignment of his duties.”
Incidentally, around two years ago, the aviation ministry had decided not to interfere in such matters, calling it an employer-employee relation. However, stooping to the pressure from big airlines, the Indian Aviation authorities planned to take this step.
The impact is foreseen at both sides - the pilots as well as the airline industry. It will not only affect the motivation and morale of the pilot community but will also have a lot of legal and financial implication on the whole eco-system. Let’s have a quick look at these 5 ripple effects which this move may result in:
1. The employment industry in aviation sector will go under a complete change because of this move. The recruitment strategies and manpower planning budgets for senior pilots will have to be realigned due to this move.
2. The impact of the order will be more on those airlines that are on the verge of expansion. The scarcity of local pilots may give rise to increase in demand for more expats to fly planes.
3. It will also be challenging for smaller companies to source experienced crew. And this can give rise to unwanted monopolies of resources.
4. Expats generally come on contract and hence it is ambiguous on how this move will be applied to them.
5. Experts have suggested that the move could also pose problems in terms of pilots losing focus during their notice period. Moreover, it is a risky affair to force such autocratic rule without measuring the moral and humane impact it can have on the ecosystem. Forcing someone to stay will definitely have an adverse effect on the loyalty quotient and may affect their frame of mind. In such an occupation, it can give rise to many serious issues not only for the airline industry and pilot community but also for common masses who travel by air.
This proposal has received opposition from various stakeholders, including pilot unions. The Federation of Indian Pilots, which calls itself a body of like-minded pilots cutting across airlines, had said that the existing notice period of six months was itself against international standards of three-month notice.
According to a recent PTI report, nearly 99 per cent of respondents had opposed this proposal for extending the notice period for senior pilots. Such decisions are a part of employment term and government should not intervene is what is being said about it by industry experts. The International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA), a global lobbying body for the crew, had criticized the proposal and had written to the regulator saying the new rule could seriously impact aviation safety. It is being seen quite ironic that such a move has been implemented a day after the country celebrated its 71st year of Independence. Together the pilot community is urging the authorities to drop this change and is in plans to challenge it legally.