Labour Research July 2012

Health & Safety Matters

New European rules a bad deal for UK pilots

New rules put forward by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) concerning working hours and conditions for pilots and cabin crew across the EU have come in for heavy criticism from the House of Commons transport select committee.

The EASA proposals would create a less stringent regime than the UK’s present rules. For example, under the EASA’s draft rules, pilots could be required to land a plane after having been awake for up to 22 hours.

The select committee found that EASA’s proposals need to be amended in order to avoid putting safety at risk. Labour MP Louise Ellman, chair of the transport committee, said: “EASA’s current proposals should be revised before the government makes any commitment to their adoption. It is important that the government addresses our concerns as the legislative process continues in Europe.”

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has mounted a vigorous campaign against EASA’s draft rules. And the committee agrees with the union that even the superior UK standards have weaknesses, including under-reporting of fatigue.

“The whole EASA process has been mismanaged and that includes ignoring key scientific advice,” said Jim McAuslan, general secretary of BALPA. “This report should be a wake-up call to the government that it must stand up for UK-level aviation safety standards and not allow them to be watered down”.