New EU Pilot Fatigue Rules

Improvements, but not yet Safe

Today, new rules to combat the safety risks posed by fatigued pilots have been proposed by EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency. While the Agency makes urgently needed improvements to its initial proposal of Dec. 2010, more needs to be done to protect air passenger safety.

Scientific research shows where flight time limits and rest periods must be set to guarantee pilots are fully alert to bring their passengers safely to destination. And yet EASA ignores such research in key aspects of its proposal.

“The 50.000 comments from stakeholders on EASA’s initial proposal of Dec. 2010 sent a clear message to the Agency: this proposal is flawed, it must be revised, and it must be based on science” says ECA President, Nico Voorbach. “Today’s revised proposal does make a number of welcome changes. However, many critical points remain, such as the excessive working times when on standby. If not amended, a pilot could be asked to land the plane after 20-21 hrs of being awake. This is not what passengers deserve! Passengers and pilots expect the EU legislator to set strong safety legislation.”

“EASA mandated three scientists to evaluate its proposal; regrettably, it seems that EASA chose to ignore most of their recommendations when these could negatively impact the airlines’ commercial interests” explains ECA Secretary General Philip von Schöppenthau. “For instance, the scientists are unanimous that night duties are particularly fatiguing and must be limited to 10 hrs flight duty time. And yet, EASA gave in to industry demands and sets 11 hrs. Such provisions – and there are many more – are against EASA’s legal mandate, against the precautionary principle, and against the most fundamental passenger right: the right to a safe flight. EASA can and must do better!”

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