Fatigue in the Cockpit

Air crews’ Flight Time Limitations are about YOU – they affect your safety as a passenger.

When boarding an airplane, you want your fundamental right to a safe flight to be guaranteed. The European Aviation Safety Agency is the agency responsible for drafting a regulation that should ensure pilots and cabin crew are well-rested and fit to bring you safely at your destination.

Yet, the final legislative proposal published by EASA, on 1 Oct 2012, proves that the EU has failed to ensure your safety as a passenger.

The Flight Time Limitations (FTL) regulation proposed by EASA reflects a worrying lack of political will to place safety ahead of commercial interests. The powerful lobby of European airlines has successfully lobbied EASA to set lax safety rules on pilot fatigue. Longer flight duty times, insufficient rest periods and excessive standby times will allow airlines to avoid costs and get more operational flexibility, but fail to protect passenger safety.

This regulation has been drafted disregarding decades of scientific research. Scientist are unanimous that strict rules are a prerequisite for flight safety. Pilots and cabin crew need to be sufficiently alert to operate safely even at the end of a long duty day and under the most demanding circumstances.

Yet the new regulation would allow pilots to be scheduled for excessively long duties without providing the sufficient amount of rest. The proposed new regulation will make it legal for pilots to operate an aircraft and land after having been awake for more than 22 hours. It also allows:

  • Extremely long hours awake at the moment of landing, after long standby and flight duties;
  • Night flights of up to 12 hrs whilst scientists set the limit at 10 hrs;         
  • Evading stringent rules on flight schedules that disrupt sleep patterns (e.g. early starts);
  • Putting crews on open-ended standby for many days without an ability to plan their rest or sleep.