On 5th July, the EP adopted several changes to the Council of Ministers' proposal for a new EU-OPS Regulation which sets minimum Flight Time Limitations (FTL) for flight crew across Europe.
The EP insisted that the FTL rules must undergo a scientific evaluation within 2 years to assess the risk of pilot fatigue and to adapt the new rules "without delay" in line with the evaluation's findings. In doing so, the EP defended two of ECA's key demands, acknowledging also that the new FTL can only be a starting point, and that scientific evidence on fatigue risks must result in a future revision of European FTL.
The Parliamentarians also defended ECA's demand of a "Non-regression clause", aimed at preventing Member States from downgrading existing higher safety standards to the lower EU-OPS level. Although the clause now adopted is not legally binding, it will put a moral obligation upon EU governments not to downgrade safety. The Regulation is expected to become law in Sept. 2006, with Member States having up to 18 months to implement it. ECA will monitor each State's implementation, attempts to dismantle safety standards, and will ensure the scientific evaluation is carried out and leads to a revision of the FTL.