Blowback Organizes Over EU Rest Rules

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Pilots in the UK are fighting back against proposed EU flight time limitation rules that they say would allow them to land an aircraft after having been "awake for 22 hours." The UK pilot push has been organized online through the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) and aims to keep current UK rules in place. It claims the EU proposals were not developed using scientific data and that existing data shows accident rates "increase markedly" as duty periods stretch beyond 10 hours. The proposed rules allow maximum daily flight duty periods in excess of 20 hours.

The EU proposals would move rest rules in the opposite direction of recent FAA changes inspired, in part, by the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407. The FAA last year released new pilot fatigue rules that are much more strict than the EU proposals and still met criticism. Under the FAA's rules, pilots will have a 10-hour minimum rest period prior to flight duty, with enough time for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Cargo pilots are not covered by the new rules and the FAA has asked them to voluntarily observe them. BALPA last month told a Transport Select Committee in the UK that their own research shows that nearly half of its members already admit to falling asleep in the cockpit under current rules. BALPA argues that extending flight time limits under the EU proposals will make that worse. Even as the fight organizes in the UK, an article published Wednesday in the German publication Welt Online states that pilots in Germany may be considering legal action if the new rules are adopted there.