Pilots angry at vote on flight time rules

Critics say 16 hours’ duty time is excessive

“A sad day for European flight safety”, tweeted the European Cockpit Association after the European Parliament voted to halt a motion that would have stopped new flight time limitation rules.

The European Parliament voted not to listen to its transport committee, which last month rejected a European Commission draft law on flight time limitations.

“Despite the criticism this revision has raised, we believe that this proposal is a considerable improvement of the current status quo in a number of member states and certainly better than managing separate arrangements for flying time around Europe,” German MEP Gesine Meissner said. “Maintaining the status quo would have not made our European sky any safer.”

The proposal harmonises EU flight and rest rules, cuts the maximum flight duty time at night from 11.45 hours to 11, the maximum flying hours per year from 1,300 to 1,000 and the maximum duty time (standby plus flight) to 16 hours.

Critics say the measures do not go far enough, with doctors and sleep experts arguing that 16 hours’ duty time is excessive and that a third pilot should be present, as is the case in the United States.


[pictured: Airbus A340-300; courtesy Finnair]