European pilots to ‘walk out for safety’

Pilots and cabin crews across Europe are to stage a “walkout for safety” on Jan 22 over proposed “flight time limitations” they say will endanger passengers and crew.

The action, which will cause huge disruption to flights across the continent, is being organised by the European Cockpit Association (ECA), which represents 38,000 pilots, and the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF).

They say the European Aviation Safety Agency has ignored scientific evidence which EASA itself commissioned and is now proposing flying hours which will worsen aircrew fatigue.

The proposals would require pilots to fly up to 110 hours in 14 days, have up to seven early starts in a row, and allow for 16 hours on standby with flight duty only starting to clock up after eight hours.

The Irish Airline Pilots Association, while a member of ECA and opposed to the new flight time regulations, will not be taking part in the walkout because it feels the strike here could raise legal issues as there is no actual dispute with their airlines as the employers. However, Irish passengers travelling to and from Europe could be badly hit.

ECA president Nico Voorbach said: “Surveys show that pilots and cabin crew are already struggling with high levels of fatigue, nodding off at the controls of aircraft. Nonetheless, EASA chose to disregard scientific recommendations and put forward a proposal that accepts high levels of aircrew fatigue.”

François Ballestero, ETF political secretary for aviation, said flight safety standards across Europe will go down and crews will be obliged to fly schedules which are “outright dangerous and will adversely affect the safety of flight operations”.

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