European Air Safety Day opposes proposed night time rules

January 25, 2013

European pilots and cabin crews organised ‘Walkout for Safety’ actions in the airports of more than 15 European countries on 22 January against the newly-proposed European flight duty time rules.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has drafted rules that allow air crews to be on duty for 20 to 22 hours and fly for longer than 12 hours during the night. These fly in the face of scientific evidence that safety risks increase significantly when crews are on duty for more than 10 hours.

By organising this action day by their affiliated members, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the European Cockpit Association (ECA) aimed to denounce the potential threat to passenger safety.

EASA’s recommendations are under review by the European Commission, which is expected to adopt into law by the end of 2013 revisions to the 2008 aviation safety regulations. The new rules should be implemented in 2015.

François Ballestero, ETF political secretary for aviation, said: “This widespread action has shown that air crew are ready to say ‘no’ when their and their passengers’ safety is compromised. Policy-makers need to take political responsibility and set rules to effectively prevent fatigue-related accidents. We will keep up the pressure across Europe on EASA and the EC to stop ignoring the scientific evidence and to put safety ahead of airline cost-cutting.”   

In Brussels, a safety petition with more than 100,000 signatures was handed over to Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of transport, and Brian Simpson, Chair of the European Parliament transport committee. Flyers were distributed in front of the European Commission and the European Parliament, calling on politicians to put passenger safety before the commercial interests of the airlines. Afterwards, the ECA and ETF held a joint press conference.
Other actions, including mass lie-downs, marches and handing out leaflets, took place in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

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