British pilots will be ‘dangerously fatigued’ under proposed EU law, says union

 

Proposed new rules on pilots’ working hours could lead to air crews flying while “dangerously fatigued”, union officials have warned ahead of a key vote by MEPs.

On Monday afternoon, members of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee will vote on proposals to establish common flight and duty-time limitations across Europe. Their decision is the most significant stage in the process towards the new rules becoming law, but they would have to be approved by the European Commission and could be subject to legal challenges.

Besides the actual length of a flight, the regulations take into account the amount and quality of rest since the previous duty and the “circadian component” or jet lag.

British pilots could face longer turns of duty, with fewer flight crew on some long-haul flights. For example, BA and Virgin currently roster three pilots to fly from Heathrow to Los Angeles. Under the new rules, there could be just two. The European Cockpit Association, which represents 38,000 pilots, said some of the proposals constituted “an outright risk to flight safety”. Its president, Nico Voorbach, said: “The new rules will only worsen the situation of air crews flying while dangerously fatigued.”

The association claimed pilots could be rostered for eight hours on standby then work on a 14-hour flight, meaning they would be landing after 22 hours on duty. It is claimed this level of tiredness equates to being four times over the blood-alcohol limit for flying.

Mr Voorbach added: “Air crews will be asked to fly over 12 hours throughout the night, whilst scientists warn that safety risks increase significantly after 10 hours at night.”

Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), said: “A European regulator that lacks scientific and medical expertise is being allowed to tear up UK flight safety rules.”

But the European Regions Airline Association (ERA), which includes BMI Regional and Cityjet, accused the unions of using “misinformation” in a bid to scupper the proposals.

Simon McNamara, ERA’s director general, said: “Social and political considerations, which are being led by flight and cabin unions, and not safety issues, are aimed at persuading MEPs to vote against the motion.”

The Association of European Airlines (AEA), which includes British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, insisted the new rules would benefit customers, and were essential for an “environmentally sustainable, safe and cost- efficient aviation market”. AEA’s Athar Husain Khan said the new rules would ensure Europe would continue to have one of the strictest rules in the world, “even stricter than today”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea