Passenger safety at risk after EU rejects changes to pilots’ hours, transport official warns

But transport commissioner criticised 'misleading scare stories and false claims'

Brussels

The European Union’s top transport official has warned that passenger safety could be at risk after a European Parliament committee on Monday rejected changes to pilots’ flight and rest times.

Pilots’ unions had said before Monday’s vote that the proposed amendments could leave pilots “dangerously fatigued”, arguing that, under the intricate new rules, some could be forced to land an aircraft after 22 hours without sleep.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) released a study last week showing that more than half of the pilots questioned had fallen asleep in the cockpit. Their report came after a case emerged of both a pilot and a co-pilot nodding off in an Airbus during a long-haul flight.

But the EU’s transport commissioner, Siim Kallas, criticised what he called “misleading scare stories and false claims”, and said that their proposals would have made Europe’s skies safer. “This vote puts at risk key measures to improve aviation safety – safety is the first priority for the EU and the sole objective of this revision,” he said in a statement.

He continued: “Pilot fatigue is a very serious issue and that’s why there are already strong EU rules in place. This proposal goes a step further bringing together the best safety practices from all EU member states and the latest scientific evidence.”

MEPs sitting in the Parliament’s transport and tourism committee rejected the European Commission proposals 20 to 13. The proposals will now be debated and possibly amended, before being put to a full vote at the 766-member European Parliament later this month.

While the EC had said the proposals would lower pilots’ working hours in most of the EU’s 28 member states, unions had interpreted the maths differently and are pushing for lower limits.

Combining the proposed flight and on-call limits, the European Cockpit Association calculated that a pilot could be allowed to land a plane after being awake for almost a full day: the equivalent, they claimed, of being four times over the blood-alcohol limit for flying.

In Britain, a pilot’s night-time flying is capped at 10 hours, Balpa says, while the new EU proposals would have pushed it up to 11 hours.

Jim McAuslan, the general secretary of Balpa, welcomed yesterday’s vote, and said they would continue to lobby MEPs before it goes to a plenary session at the end of October. “The commission must now go back to the drawing board and work with pilots and scientists to develop rules on flying time and tiredness that are based on evidence and expert experience,” he said.

Mr Kallas hit back yesterday with his own examples of how the rules would be applied, saying that if the legislation is not passed, pilots and crew on rest time would have to sleep sitting up in economy, while some member states would have no limits at all on maximum stand-by and flight times. The night-time flying cap would remain at the current 11 hours and 45 minutes.

Aviation industry associations also backed the changes to the rules, saying they would improve safety across the continent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Life and Style
tech
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
Arts and Entertainment
Master of ceremony: Jeremy Paxman
tvReview: Victory for Jeremy Paxman in this absorbing, revealing tale
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

£130 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher Jan 2015 - July...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - 9-12 Months

£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Accounts Assistant is immedi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Communications Executive

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - London, £60k

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - Central London, £60,000...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness