Flight Time Limitations

What is the issue?

Flight and Duty Time Limitations (FTL) are necessary to ensure that pilot fatigue does not endanger flight safety. Since the 1944 Chicago Convention, it is recognised that pilot fatigue (due to long duty hours, insufficient rest/sleep opportunities etc.) can pose a risk to the safety of air operations. Within the EU, this risk is addressed at two levels. Firstly, by EU-wide binding FTL rules (enshrined in Reg. 1899/2006, Annex III, Subpart Q). Secondly, at company level, among others by sound rostering practices, Collective Labour Agreements, and/or Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS).

How is ECA involved?

ECA has been a long-standing supporter of harmonised FTL across the EU. Harmonisation at the highest, scientifically derived safety level will help to create a level playing field within the EU. For over a decade, ECA has contributed to the development of today’s FTL rules which are mandatory across Europe since July 2008. Apart from interacting with the EU Commission and Parliament on related issues (incl. derogation requests of EU States), ECA works with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) EASA on the next generation of EASA FTL rules, applicable as of Spring 2013. ECA also monitors national implementation of FTL rules, scientific fatigue research as well as the development of Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) at company level.

Why is the issue important to ECA?

Due to increasing competitive pressures in aviation, many companies use their flight crews more intensively. To ensure that this does not result in pilot fatigue and a risk to our passengers, strong FTL rules must be in place and be applied effectively. Any attempts to interpret and apply the rules in a way that compromises safety must be prevented. Crucially, the EU has a unique opportunity to base its next generation of pilot fatigue rules on scientific evidence, as required by EU law and ICAO standards. With a wide body of science available, ECA strongly advocates for safe science-based rules and the ability of national authorities to maintain higher FTL safety standards, if they wish to. The passengers’ safety must come first.

Who is responsible?

  • Executive Board Directors: Paul Reuter
  • Staff members: Philip von Schöppenthau, Paulina Marcickiewicz
  • Working Group: Flight Time Limitations (FTL WG)
  • Chairman: Didier Moraine, Vice-Chairman: Patrick Magisson

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