Brussels, 12 July 2013
Aviation safety: Member States support the revision of aircrew fatigue rules
The Member States voted today strongly in support of a draft proposal made by the Commission aimed at revising the current EU safety rules governing the fatigue of aircrew, commonly called "flight and duty limitations and rest requirements" (or "flying time limitations"- FTL). The revision aims at consolidating, clarifying, complementing - and making more stringent – the current rules, taking into consideration the available scientific, operational and international information.
Siim Kallas, Commission Vice-President responsible for transport, said: "The travelling public needs reassurance that the public authorities are doing everything possible to ensure safety in the skies, including the sensitive and complicated question of aircrew fatigue. We are determined to see stronger, safer rules applying across Europe, whether in relation to night time flying or on rest periods. So I am delighted at this strong support from Member States for this important proposal. This will bring about major improvements across Europe for the safety of our citizens and flight crew."
Member States today voted strongly in support of the Commission proposal to amend the EU rules on flight time limitation
The current FTL rules are contained in Subpart Q of Annex III to Council Regulation (EEC) No 3922/91, which applies since July 2007.
As for all aviation safety fields, Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 requires the Commission to adopt an implementing regulation to transfer the current FTL rules to the legislative and institutional framework of this Regulation, and to revise the existing rules in line with the latest scientific evidence and technical developments. The aim is to ensure a coherent safety regulatory system at EU level.
These objectives were well attained by the technical proposals made by EASA to the Commission in October 20121. The EASA Opinion was the result of a careful and comprehensive consultation and assessment processes, involving all stakeholders concerned.
A thorough assessment of the EASA Opinion and consultation of all stakeholders was conducted before the Commission felt satisfied that it had a sufficient basis for proposing the new regulation. It was clear from the consultation that certain issues needed to be refined, and the Commission therefore proposed amendments to address issues identified by aircrew unions, by airlines, by the European Parliament, and by Member States. Improvements touched, among others, the important issues of possible derogations from the EU rules, the relationship with social legislation, airport duty, reserve, delayed reporting, in-flight rest for cabin crew, night flights and standby.
In discussion in the EASA Committee, Member States highlighted the high quality of the proposed rules, the fair balance found and the clear safety improvements achieved. They also stressed their agreement with the Commission that there should be a continuous and ongoing assessment of the FTL regime, based on real operational data, to ensure that the system is effective and ensuring a proper level of safety protection.
During the discussions which took place today, Member States discussed several options for regulating night flight duties and standby outside the airport. The majority found that the proposals presented by the Commission and by EASA to regulate these areas were sufficiently protective.
In the case of night duties, Member States welcome the Commission proposal to reduce the maximum night time duties from the current 11 hours 45 minutes to 11 hours, and supported the proposed requirement to manage actively duty rosters including night duties longer than 10 hours using fatigue management principles, which should ensure safe air operations in the most proportionate manner.
On standby, Member States were satisfied with the reassurances from EASA which offer further protection.
It was also made clear that the FTL safety rules are without prejudice to the applicable EU and national social legislation, including rules concerning working time, health and safety at work or the existing collective labour agreements (CLAs). In addition, the relation between safety and social rules is based on the principle that the most protective rule applies.
This positive vote now triggers a 3 month scrutiny of the Regulation by the European Parliament and the Council, which should start by the end of this month.
The Commission thanked the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the Member States and stakeholders for the work done and for the support provided to allow the modernization of this important piece of EU legislation.
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See EASA Opinion 04/20012, of 1.10.2012, and related material available at http://www.easa.europa.eu/agency-measures/opinions.php.