Pilots across Europe are warning that EU rules on how long they can be required to work present a yawning danger. Those who earn their living in the air called for safety lobbying in Brussels to be given renewed thrust. Flight crews also demonstrated at airports, handing out dummy tickets saying the rules are not adequate.
The Brussels-based European Cockpit Association (ECA) said if the EU doesn’t act fast to change the law, the professionals will up the pressure. They say an EU night shift maximum of nearly twelve hours reduces alertness and effectiveness, and should be maximum ten hours. EU law allows pushing a day shift two hours more than studies recommend — to 14 hours for a pilot and 15 hours for cabin crew. Martin Chalk, President of the European Cockpit Association, said: “We believe that the public should know that the rules that are laid-down at EU level are insufficient and they need to be modernised and reflect the latest scientific medical view of fatigue.” The British Airline Pilots Association and the ECA have accused the EU of ignoring a report which one year ago recommended legislative changes to ensure that fatigue-related risks are reduced for everyone on board a plane. Fatigue has been named as a factor in crashes over the years.