Pilot bodies hit out at EASA proposal on flight-time limits

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Pilot unions have hit out at the European Aviation Safety Agency's proposed new rules on flight-time limitations, which European Commission members voted to support on 12 July.

The British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) - which represents some 80% of UK airline pilots - has accused EASA of "gross maladministration", and submitted a complaint to the European Ombudsman stating that the agency's proposals "appear to be very short on relevant medical and scientific qualification". EASA "took no steps to record or manage conflicts of interest", BALPA argues.

Nico Voorbach - president of the European Cockpit Association (ECA), which represents European pilots at the EU level - says: "It was our sincere hope that the EU Commission would improve the flight-time limitations proposal, especially after the Parliament hearing on 18 June, where it became clear that EASA ignored scientific evidence. We now learnt no improvements have been put forward and we are deeply unsatisfied with the final Commission proposal."

After the Commission vote, SNPL France ALPA denounced the position of the French government for what the union terms "officially validating the degradation of aviation safety". In voting in support of the flight-time legislation, "France ceded only to the financial interests of airlines at the expense of safety", the union contends.

With the European Parliament set to vote on the issue, Voorbach says: "We trust that members of the European Parliament will examine the proposal thoroughly and take the necessary measures to improve it and make it safe. If this is not the case, the only other option is to reject the EU Commission proposal."

Under EASA's latest proposed rule change, BALPA says, the maximum flight-duty period a two pilot crew can operate on a one- or two-sector trip is 14h with an allowable planned 1h operator extension. This can be extended by 2h if required and deemed safe by the commander.