For a long time, fatigue and its impact on transport safety has been subject to research. A wide body of aviation- and flight time-related scientific evidence is available (see list below) identifying pilot fatigue as a risk factor in flight safety, and showing the need for effective Flight Time Limitations (FTL) to reduce this risk. (see list of scientific publications and overview of scientific literature and related list) .
Despite this, EU legislation (EU-OPS Regulation, “Subpart Q”) setting FTL for pilots, had never been subject to a scientific and medical evaluation. Instead, it is the result of a political compromise during the legislative process in 2004/2006 that resulted in today’s Subpart Q. Hence, Europe’s current legislation is not based on sound scientific evidence as to its ability to prevent pilot fatigue.
This lack of scientific basis, must be addressed to ensure passengers can enjoy highest, scientifically supported safety levels when boarding European airplanes.
This lack of scientific basis is also why the European Parliament and Council of Transport Ministers, back in 2006, decided that a medical and scientific evaluation of Subpart Q must be carried out within 2 years after entry into force of the EU-OPS Regulation. As a result, the EU-OPS Regulation contains a legally binding mandated for the
- European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to carry out such an evaluation by January 2009;
- European Commission to "draw up and submit [legislative] proposals without delay to amend the relevant technical provisions" of Subpart Q on the basis of this scientific evaluation, should the latter show that FTL rules need to be amended.