Published on : Wednesday, February 22, 2017
European airlines flying under the new EU Flight Time Limitations (FTL) rules completed one year. These rules were introduced to prevent pilot fatigue from endangering flight safety. However, widely differing interpretations of the rules, lack of official guidance on correct implementation, immature Fatigue Risk Management (FRM) systems in the airlines, and persistent fatigue problems in Europe’s cockpits are the current state-of-play. This is why the stakeholders of the aviation industry are planning to address these shortcomings jointly.
This first anniversary confirms that the complexity of the new EU FTL rules results in them being widely misinterpreted and incorrectly implemented. Most of the National Aviation Authorities and the airlines are planning to integrate the essential points to regulate the flight operations.
ECA President Capt. Dirk Polloczek said that particularly at risk are night flight duties of 10 hrs or more, extended flights of 14 hours, and standby-flight combinations with pilots being awake for more than 18 hours – but being expected to land their aircraft and passengers safely after such duties.
A key finding of a new Safety Culture study, carried out jointly with EUROCONTROL highlighted that fatigue strikes 6 out of 10 European pilots – but that only 2 out of 10 pilots think that fatigue is taken seriously by their airline.
This first anniversary is also the start of a new scientific review of Europe’s FTL rules. Next month, a consortium of research institutes will kick-off their work, which is expected to result in a final report in Feb. 2019.