Scientific Basis for Flight Time Rules Mandated by New ICAO Annex Amendment

New standards approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), on March 3rd 2009, stipulate that regulations on flight and duty time limitations must be based on "scientific principles and knowledge". The amendment is expected to impact upon EU Member States' national FTL laws, as well as EUwide FTL rules (Reg. 1899/2006), which – so far – are unfortunately not based on such "scientific principles and knowledge". The European Commission, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and EU Member States are called upon to change EU pilot fatigue rules in line with latest scientific evidence.

The new ICAO amendment will be applicable from 19th November 2009. The text is the result of over 8 years of work in ICAO. It includes for the first time a precise and prescriptive definition of fatigue to facilitate its assessment and contains new guidance for prescriptive regulations on Flight Time Limitations (FTL) aimed to ensure pilot fatigue does not endanger flight safety.

"European Pilots strongly welcome this amendment. It shows that ICAO's member states are committed to flight safety. Now it is time to translate these good resolutions from paper into reality," said Philip von Schöppenthau, Secretary General of the European Cockpit Association (ECA), representing over 38.200 pilots from across Europe. "However, Europe's travelling public will not see this reality happening anytime soon. So far, EU
Member States and the EU Institutions have shied away from mustering the political will to base Europe's pilot fatigue rules on sound scientific evidence. This, clearly, must change!"

For ECA President, Captain Martin Chalk, "the Amendment is well timed. It reminds the EU Institutions they have to modernise the EU's FTL rules. They must now incorporate their own recommendations of a recent EASA-Commissioned scientific study of these rules."

Download ECA Press Release (PDF)