European Pilots Protest Flight and Duty Time Changes

 - January 28, 2013, 3:00 PM
Airline pilots and cabin crew joined forces in the Spanish capital, Madrid, last week to protest proposed new European Union flight-time rules that they say could compromise safety.

The Walk Out for Safety protest organized by the European Cockpit Association (ECA) was supported by 2,500 to 3,000 pilots and cabin crew across 26 different countries on January 22. The event was intended to express opposition to changes to commercial flight- and duty-time rules proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

In addition to simultaneous demonstrations at several major European airports, the ECA also handed over a petition with more than 100,000 signatures to European Union institutions in Brussels. The ECA believes the new rules will exacerbate current pilot and cabin crew fatigue problems.

“The rules drafted by the EASA are a blow in the face of Europe’s air crews and passengers,” commented ECA president Nico Voorback. “The new rules will allow…aircrews to be on duty for [as many as] 20 to 22 hours. And they will be asked to fly over 12 hours throughout the night.”

The ECA says that scientific evidence supports its contention that safety risks increase significantly after 10 hours at night. EASA officials declined to comment on the walk-out protest when asked by AIN.