India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has announced support for periods of controlled cockpit rest for pilots. In an August 15 operations circular, the DGCA calls the naps, which are to be allowed on flights of at least three hours, “effective fatigue mitigation tools.”
The Indian agency cautions, “Controlled rest is not a substitute for proper pre-flight sleep or for normal crew augmentation, but is intended as a response to unexpected fatigue experienced during operations.” Operators were also warned that the naps are intended as a risk-management tool and not a crew scheduling option.
The new plan includes specific requirements such as the need to ensure naps are used only during predictably low-workload portions of the flight. Rest periods may not last longer than 40 minutes and must also offer at least a 20-minute post-sleep buffer to allow pilots to shake off any sleep inertia issues. Before initiating a rest break, pilots must push the seat as far back from the controls as possible to prevent potential interference during flight should they move in their sleep. When one pilot is resting, the pilot flying is not allowed to leave the cockpit for any reason.