Sir - On flight-time limitations, you say ("Duty bound", Flight International, 14-20 December, P32) that: "The International Federation of Airline Pilots' Associations (IFALPA) is convinced that the proposed European rules are dangerous..."

It is entirely legitimate that professional bodies should say and do whatever they can to further their main aim of improving members' pay and working conditions

With jobs where public interest can be invoked to camouflage the issue - be they doctors, teachers, rail workers or pilots - it is rare to see a straightforward claim for higher pay or less work for the same pay. Professional bodies involve as closely as they can the well-being of patients, children, rail passenger and, indeed, airline-passenger safety.

It is nonsense for pilot unions to pretend that they are prepared to leave decisions to the aeromedical establishment, as British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) General Secretary Chris Darke says in his letter (Flight International, 30 November-6 December 1994, P41). The unions use and can be expected to use every possible argument to influence the aeromedical establishment.

Darke goes on to say that anyone familiar with flight-time schemes operated in Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK "-could not fail to conclude that the Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) proposals represent a relaxing of regulation, to the detriment of flight safety." Why should increased productivity be detrimental to safety?

Is it because a few of Europe's airlines in years gone by negotiated highly restrictive agreements in lieu of higher pay? Many more airlines and countries throughout Europe and around the world have long experience of higher-productivity statutory flight-time-limitation schemes, without any apparent degradation of safety.

BALPA's "safety" cry echoes the passionate plea it also made in years past, in the name of safety, not to remove radio operators from the cockpit, not to remove navigators, not to remove flight engineers - all silenced by a little more cash for the pilots.

The "Duty bound" article comes close to jeopardising its credibility by saying that IFALPA in its "dangerous" claim "...has the support of the airlines." The overwhelming majority of Europe's 100 airlines which employ pilots within government statutory rules (which form the bases of the proposed new European "JAA" rules), as distinct from union agreements, will have no truck whatsoever with IFALPA's self-serving assertion.

R P Holubowicz

Director General

International Air Carrier Association

Brussels, Belgium

An edited version of this letter first appeared in Flight International, 11-17 January, P44. Ed

Source: Flight International