Hundreds of pilots demonstrate against EASA’s proposed fatigue rules

The demonstration took place on Monday 14 May 2012

Hundreds of pilots and cabin crew from across Europe this week demonstrated in front of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Cologne, in a bid to convince the Agency that safety must be at the heart of new pilot fatigue rules.

EASA is currently meeting to discuss their latest draft of pilot fatigue rules which the demonstrating safety campaigners and pilots believe are unsafe and unscientific. Members from the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), the European Cockpit Association (ECA) and the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) from all over the continent joined together, telling EASA that safety must be their number one priority. Jim McAuslan, BALPA’s General Secretary, said “As we have said many times, EASA’s current proposals are deeply flawed. Would you feel safe driving your car after having been awake for almost a full day? Under its current proposal for air crew on standby, EASA would require a pilot to land an airplane full of passengers around 22 hours after having woken up in the early morning. This is only one of the many striking unsafe examples that the current proposal would permit.”

Nico Voorbach, President of the ECA, said, “Science has demonstrated that long flight and duty hours, and insufficient rest and sleep opportunities will lead to a decline of alertness and performance. To guarantee that pilots and cabin crew are fully alert, strong EU rules, based on science, are essential.”

Jim McAuslan went on to say, “We need two things. EASA needs to drastically improve their proposals in some key areas, and take on board the scientific advice that they have received. And we need the UK Government to say that unless these rules are significantly improved, and made to reflect the scientific recommendations, that they would not support their implementation in the UK.”

BALPA is currently running a campaign to combat the new change to duty limitations, which can be found here.

EASA’s fatigue proposals, which will replace the UK’s domestic arrangements, will drastically increase the total amount of time pilots could be awake for before landing their aircraft. The Agency issued a first proposal in the form of a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) in December 2010 (NPA 2010-14), which can be found here, and received comments from a large number of stakeholders during the three month consultation phase which followed. On 18 January 2012, EASA published the Comment Response Document (CRD) on implementing rules on Flight and Duty Time Limitations, which can be found here.