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EU fatigue rules “unsafe” BALPA tells MPs

Pilots flying to the limits of proposed European flight time limitations will suffer performance decrement comparable to that associated with having drunk five cans of beer, UK MPs have been told.

In a briefing given to MPs and Peers at Parliament, BALPA warned that the new flight time rules being proposed by EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) would result in pilots flying with levels of fatigue equivalent to them being four times over the legal alcohol limit for pilots.

BALPA’s claim is based on an analysis of the proposed flight time limitations using fatigue modelling software. BALPA’s Head of Flight Safety and Security, Dr Rob Hunter, said “Alcohol and lack of sleep affect our abilities in similar ways. Using the CAA’s own scientific model for calculating fatigue, the proposed EU regulations would see pilots landing their aircraft with the equivalent performance detriment of being four times over the legal limit for flying.”

BALPA chairman Captain Mark Searle said “This adds to the growing mountain of scientific evidence that says the EU proposals are unsafe and will put passengers’ lives at risk.”

BALPA would like to see the UK maintain existing UK regulations (CAP371) which are used not only in the UK, but as the basis for flight time limitations in a number of countries worldwide.  BALPA acknowledges that these rules are “far from perfect”, but maintain that they are “an awful lot better than the EU’s plans”.

The EASA consultation process is ongoing, with a draft response to comments received due to be published in December, after which stakeholders will have two months in which to comment.


Source: Flight International, flightglobal.com, BALPA