EASA proposes new harmonised rules to avoid flight crew fatigue

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) today published its proposal to amend the current EU rules on flight and duty time limitations and rest requirements (FTL) for commercial air transport. Released in a final proposal known as an Opinion, the proposed rules contain more than 30 safety improvements compared to current requirements and introduce new limitations to the way crews can be scheduled.

The Opinion takes full account of the fact that fatigue is one of the main factors affecting human performance and makes no provision for increased pilot flight hours. On the contrary, allowed duty periods at night are reduced, rest for flights with time zone crossings is significantly increased, and new rules are introduced for limiting crew standby.

These FTL rules are the final step in a fully transparent rulemaking process, with unprecedented scientific input and public consultation. More than 50 scientific studies were analysed, while all concerned stakeholder groups including flight and cabin crew organisations, airlines, and Member State representatives were consulted throughout the process.

Commenting on the release of the Opinion, EASA's Executive Director, Patrick Goudou, said: "These harmonised flight crew duty time rules are based on scientific evidence, risk assessment and best practice. With this Opinion, EASA proves once again its commitment to make no compromise with the safety of air passengers in Europe and throughout the world."

The Opinion will now enter the legislative process. It will be finalised by the European Commission and must be approved by Member States, with Parliamentary scrutiny. The new rules are expected to be adopted into EU law after mid-2013 and fully implemented by the end of 2015.