Just how many hours can a pilot fly without endangering the lives of passengers? That's what a group of Indian pilots and the Supreme Court want decided and implemented urgently.
The regulator for airlines, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has been issued a contempt of court notice by the Supreme Court today because a policy on pilots' shifts remains unclear. The DGCA, Arun Mishra, has been given three weeks to respond.
The matter is in the Supreme Court because of a group of pilots who have said that some recent crashes and narrow escapes can be attributed to pilot fatigue.
The DGCA's policy was meant to kick in this month, but the pilots say not all airlines are following orders.
The new rules say airlines must take into account a pilot's 'duty time' as against just 'flight time'. This means that a pilot's shift would include any time spent getting to work, including flying to the city or airport from where or she reports for duty.