We are fatigued! On 5 October, in some 25 European countries, hundreds of pilots and cabin crews in uniform organised demonstrations at airports and at the European Institutions. Bogus tickets were distributed, warning passengers that inadequate European limits on flying hours could put their lives at risk.
The 2nd European Action Day – called jointly by the European Cockpit Association (ECA) and the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) – was a stunning success. The action was a combination of a centralised event in Brussels and local actions prepared by European pilot and cabin crew associations. In total, almost 2000 pilots and cabin crew participated in the event, with a clear and straight forward message: EU fatigue rules need to be swiftly changed into science based laws.
At 11:00 on 5 October, after distributing leaflets at the airports across Europe, and in Brussels around the European Institutions, a delegation of pilot and cabin crew representatives gathered in front of the European Parliament for a simulation of an unsafe flight operated by fatigued crew.
The participants' motivation was unambiguous. After the first anniversary of a scientific report on fatigue which urged changes to the EU fatigue rules, pilots and cabin crew are tired of months of inaction and airlines' lobbying against the incorporation of science based rules.
The Action Day had a big impact; on the public – who showed great interest in aviation safety , on the Members of the European Parliament and Transport Committee (who were meeting on that day) and on the media, who attended our press conference and took the time to understand the important safety issues at stake. Even though fatigue is a complex and technical topic, hundreds of articles and podcasts in many European languages reported the event. It was also reported upon in the USA and other countries outside Europe. Links to these articles and pictures of the event can be found on the website www.dead-tired.eu.
ECA is satisfied with the way this day worked. It showed the motivation of pilots and cabin crews to fight for a safe operational environment. It also shows that pilot and cabin crew teamwork to ensure high safety standards is as successful and efficient on the 'political' ground as in the air...
However, after months of intensive preparations for this action day, it is not the time for ECA to sit down and relax. Quite the contrary. This was only a first step, and the road is long until our safety demands turn into concrete changes. European pilots and cabin crews will maintain their determination until the European Institutions approve the necessary new scientifically based rules.