An amended version of a controversial proposal to harmonise rules governing flight-duty and rest periods for pilots and cabin crew has been put forward by European Commission regulators.

It sets a maximum flight time of 13h a day, falling to 11h 45min for night flights, a threshold that the EC claims "meets the concerns" of airlines, flightcrew associations and the European Parliament.

But pilots' representatives are sceptical of the proposal. Capt Dennis Dolan, president of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations, says: "Since the regulation has not been subjected to scientific review, which we think is essential before we would agree that the terms are based on the known science regarding aircrew fatigue, the regulation is inherently deficient."

A new section in the proposal - known as "Subpart Q" - lays down details on flight-duty limits. There is a clause stating that the European Aviation Safety Agency will be tasked to conduct a scientific and medical evaluation of the provisions contained in Subpart Q within three years of the rules coming into force.

European transport commissioner Loyola de Palacio says: "This new regulation will facilitate the necessary consensus between all the institutions to establish strict safety rules for all European commercial aircraft operations."

Source: Flight International