UK Transport Committee Questions Flight-time Rules

 - September 16, 2013, 2:00 PM

The UK Parliament’s Transport Committee has criticized the European Union’s proposed flight- and duty-time regulations, saying that while they represent an improvement over the current versions, some of the new rules seem to fly in the face of current scientific research. The changes, driven by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), are expected to take effect in November this year.

The House of Commons committee also expressed concern that no consensus was reached with cabin crew and pilots on the draft. Specifically, the EASA version could enable operators to create duty rotations in which up to 33 percent of flights exceed the [current] maximum flight duty period. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says 10 to 20 percent is a more practical limit, but the EASA final rule remains unchanged, with the Europe-wide agency claiming this kind of scheduling is only seasonal.

Other topics of concern include the under-reporting of pilot fatigue, as it relates to the proposed 11-hour duty period on flights conducted during the middle of the night. The committee reiterated its demand that “the government seek to ensure scientists have a more central role in further work by EASA as it finalizes its flight-time limitations proposals.”

In any case, the British lawmakers have suggested the EU revisit the regulation two years after implementation to assess its effectiveness.