Flight time limitations: Stop overworking European aircrew!

7 Aug 2019

As a Result of EC Regulation 1899/2006, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has been asked to commission a scientific and medical evaluation of the provisions on flight and duty time limitations (FTL) and rest requirements. In the report edited on January 22, 2009, experts demonstrated that the oldest regulation is insufficient to safeguarding cabin crew and pilots against fatigue. What was originally intended to describe minimum standards in the Regulation was interpreted by some operators as the norm. Feedback from affiliates has proved that operators are pushing for longer working hours with less time for recuperation. Thus, the Regulation was being exploited to its potential! An update was required in order to obtain a high and uniform level of protection for the European citizen when travelling.

In the Regulation, aircrews were exempted from normal working time protection. For those working in this sector, 13 to 14 hour work days were common, as well as 60 hour work weeks with little or no time for rest incorporated therein. This continuous work cycle created a hazardous situation, both to the working crew and to the passengers, since it is well known that increased fatigue amplifies the potential for human errors. Taking into account the social and industrial impact of the FTL provisions, the ETF thus demanded the creation of a more restrictive, harmonized set of FTL rules that will be applied to all operators who operate within EU airspace.

After all this, on 31 January 2014, the European Commission adopted a Regulation defining EU-wide rules on Flight Time Limitations for European cabin crew and pilots. Thanks to the strong pressure of the ETF and other stakeholders, the original EASA proposal was improved. Since the beginning of the rule making process, ETF has always been in favour of European-wide FTL for aircrew that takes into account of all relevant recent and publicly available scientific, medical studies/evaluations and/or operational experience, as well as the outcome from ICAO on FRMS.

FTL safety rules do not affect the applicable EU and national legislation on social issues, including working time, health and safety at work and labour agreements. If current or future legislation or collective agreements on social issues are more restrictive than FTL rules, they will continue to prevails over the harmonised safety FTL rules. In addition, thousands of cabin crew and pilots who have no collective agreements are protected.

ETF sees significant and positive steps within the legislation, which ultimately takes safety harmonisation in the right direction of providing positive standards for all European airlines and workers.