Irish pilots furious over EU limits on flying times

THE Irish Airline Pilot’s Association has criticised new proposals for EU rules on flight time limitations, published by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

IALPA president, Captain Evan Cullen, said pilots were disappointed that EASA has disregarded the available scientific evidence and introduced rules that will compromise safety.

The EASA proposals are for pilots to fly a maximum of 14 hours per day during “day duties” and 12 hours for “night duties” for up to seven days in a row. The equivalent proposals from the US’s governing body are for 13 and 9 hours, respectively, and for a maximum of three consecutive nights.

Captain Cullen said the EASA proposals were “well below the standards to be expected from a credible safety regulator, and are essentially designed to reduce costs rather than improve safety”.

“When it comes to Flight Time Limitations (FTL) for aircrew the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is regarded in the industry as the most ‘light touch regulator’ in Western Europe. The combination of EASA ignoring the scientific evidence and the IAA facilitation of the commercial interest is an unsatisfactory mix in a safety-critical industry” he said.

“FTLs are about the human body clock and physical limits. But EASA seems to suggest Europe’s pilots are more fatigue-resistant and can fly longer hours than their American counterparts and more than scientific studies say is safe.”

He said EASA’s stated mission is to “promote the highest common standards of safety in Europe and worldwide. Despite this, these FTL proposal moves in the opposite direction and disregard decades of scientific research,” he said.

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