Air Transport : Pilots' Flight Times Too Long, Says Study

Article excerpt

Should Community regulations on the flight and duty time limitations of airline pilots be reviewed? The question has been raised following the publication by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), on 22 January, of a scientific study, which clearly indicates that the flight times to which pilots are subjected are too long. The report makes a link with the risk of accidents and recommends reducing the flight times anticipated by Community legislation. Currently, Regulation 1899/2006 allows pilots to fly for 13 consecutive hours, with the possibility of extending this by one hour twice a week. During the night, the maximum flying time is 11:45. The report published by EASA recommends reducing this to ten hours.

The possibility for pilots and cabin crew to work a 60-hour week for three consecutive weeks - permitted by EU legislation - is also singled out by the scientific report (which advocates 100 hours of work over a 14-day period), as are adaptations - also authorised - to rest periods. Quoting scientific literature, the report indicates that a working time of 10-12 hours increases the risk of accidents by 1.7 times and that a working time of 13 hours or more multiplies this risk by 5.5.

The European Cockpit Association (ECA), which represents airline pilots in Europe, is now calling for an urgent review of Community rules, recalling that fatigue is a contributing factor in 15% to 20% of accidents principally caused by human error. The airlines are taking a different view and are questioning the methodological process, considering the scientific and medical content of the report to be insufficient. …