3 New Scientific Studies

While Moebus Aviation’s panel of experts had found consensus on all points and made clear recommendations to the EU Institutions, they were largely ignored in the subsequent rulemaking process, due to heavy airline lobbying against the study’s findings (see: “What Do the Airlines Say?”).

As a result of repeated requests from ECA, EASA finally agreed to scientifically assess its first “NPA” proposal for new FTL rules (see next chapter). Further to a tender process in late 2010, three renowned scientists (Dr. P. Cabon, Dr. A. Gundel and Dr. M. Spencer) were asked to prepare 3 separate independent assessments on whether the proposed rules were in line with scientific evidence. – Their reports were finalized end June 2011 and made available – on a confidential basis – to the stakeholders represented in EASA’s rulemaking group.

Whilst having been prepared separately and independently from each other, the 3 reports converge in most of their findings, demonstrating that many provisions of EASA’s proposal were not in line with what science considers necessary to ensure safe flight operations.

The reports also confirm most of the findings of the Moebus report. For example, they reiterate the need to limit night flights to 10 hours; to limit extensions to flight duty times to a narrow time window (07:00-12:00 start time); to reduce the max. daily flight duty times as of the 2nd take-off (as opposed to the 3rd take-off); to limit the use of early starts, late finishes and night duties as they disrupt the crew’s sleep patterns; etc. - However, EASA refused to make these results public in summer 2011. Instead it kept them confidential for more than 6 months.

EASA published the 3 scientific reports on 18 Jan. 2012, as part of a comprehensive “CRD” package of documents – hidden away in one of the Annexes (page 103-194) and without any overview of the reports’ recommendations. That way Agency ensured that the reports did not get much attention.

Despite their very clear and converging recommendations, the 3 reports had almost no impact on the subsequent rulemaking process and EASA’s “CRD” proposal (Jan. 2012).

In March 2012, ECA therefore asked EASA to hire the 3 scientists again to carry out an assessment of the latest EASA proposals before their publication as a final “Opinion”. The aim was to get an independent view on whether the final package was indeed is in line with scientific evidence and sufficiently safe, as EASA claimed. This request, however, was rejected by EASA (May 2012). ECA’s subsequent request (May 2012) to the EU Commission’s DG Move was equally rejected (July 2012). A renewed request to the Commission (Nov. 2012) remained unanswered.

However, several scientists carried out an independent assessment of the Opinion, in May 2013, reconfirming many of the previous findings and recommendations (see below: Chapter ‘6 Scientists Assess EASA Opinion’).