AEA rejects pilot unions' flight time objections

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The Association of European Airlines (AEA) is rejecting claims by pilot unions that proposed flight time limitation rules are unsafe.

Flight deck crew from the International Federation of Airline Pilots' Associations (IFALPA), the European Cockpit Association and members of the European Transport Workers Federation protested earlier this week against current and proposed rules, which they maintain do not take into account independent research into pilot fatigue.

However, AEA rebuts the claims, insisting the flight time limitation regulations are covered by EU legislation and deliver safe operations.

"The unions refer to a study to justify a reduction of daily and weekly working time," says AEA secretary general Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus. "The study's methodology has been questioned, and in fact it flies in the face of empirical experience. European airlines are extremely safe - it is simply untrue to claim they are not.

"The unions are raising a safety issue as a means of promoting their own interests - unions want pilots who are flying safely today to fly less tomorrow, so more pilots would be needed to do the same amount of flying."

IFALPA claims in a statement that the upcoming regulation set out by the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) "does nothing for the safety of the travelling public" and does not take into account EU-funded research.

"Since the findings of the study [Moebus report] were published, Brussels appears to have buckled under pressure from lobbying groups," it adds.

For its part, EASA says it is talking to crew bodies and carriers as it looks to establish new flight time limitations to replace existing EU Ops Sub-part Q regulations.

Proposals will be drafted for formal consultation at the end of next year, with the intent to introduce rulemaking in 2011.