Two days after the French celebrate their Revolution, European aviation will celebrate the introduction of EU-wide, harmonised safety rules on Flight Time Limitations (FTL). By that day, EU Member States and their operators will have to implement the new "EU-OPS" FTL rules which aim to prevent pilot fatigue becoming a safety risk. However, many countries and operators are unlikely to be ready, despite having had 18 months to prepare. Will aircraft be grounded if they don't comply with EU safety rules?
This is unlikely to happen as regulators would not like thousands of holiday makers stranded at their airports. Instead, many pilot rosters and operations manuals will not reflect the latest FTL rules, nor will all regulators be in a position to properly control this.
Crucially, several EU states are using the introduction of the EU-OPS FTL rules as a pretext to downgrade their previously high safety standards, by aligning their national legislation with the lower EU-OPS minimum. Lower safety standards rather than higher ones - hardly what the EU legislator had in mind. What was intended to become a milestone for safety turns out to be a symbol for a trend into the opposite direction.