Flight Time Limitations: off to Plenary

Members of the European Parliament will be voting on the Flight Time Limitations proposal of the EU Commission on 9 October in Strasbourg. The vote comes only a week after a firm rejection of the proposed rules in the EU Transport Committee and is indicative of the EU Parliamentarian’s concerns about the scientific basis of this legislation. Yet, the Committee’s decision must be reconfirmed by an absolute majority of the 766 Members of the entire EU Parliament.

On 30 September, in a room packed with journalists, pilots and cabin crew, Members of the Transport Committee supported a motion to reject the FTL rules. With a large majority of 21 votes to 13, the EU Parliamentarians said a clear “no” to the rules, proposed by EASA and the EU Commission. The proposal for flight times has been heavily criticized as not being scientifically-based and potentially unsafe. The vote took place amid worrying reports that the majority of European pilots fall asleep while in control of an aircraft, a fact already revealed by the ECA Pilot Fatigue Barometer in 2012. The vote heralds the Transport Committee’s resistance to vote against scientific recommendations.

A major stumbling stone for the proposal were the provisions allowing a combined standby of 8 hrs, followed by a flight time of 14 hrs, which could result in landing an aircraft after 22 hrs awake and the excessively long night duties, which exceed the scientific recommendations for flying up to 10 hrs at night. Awaiting the crucial vote in the EP Plenary, pilots and cabin crews applauded the decision of Transport Committee Members.