Pilots’ union, BALPA says new regulations could require crews to be awake more than 24 hours before and during a flight. (‘Faces of Flight 3407’ image courtesy of BALPA)

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One of the leaders of the victims’ families of a US air crash has spoken out against EU flight safety rules which would see pilots flying in an unsafe state of tiredness.

(‘Faces of Flight 3407’ image courtesy of BALPA)

It comes as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published its final ‘opinion’ on new EU pilot fatigue rules which will replace the UK’s domestic standards.

The pilots’ union, BALPA says the new regulations could require crews to be awake more than 24 hours before and during a flight and doubling the number of early, pre-dawn starts.

Scott Maurer, the father of a passenger killed in Continental flight 3407 which crashed in Buffalo, NY, partly as a result of tired pilots, has written on behalf of all the affected families to the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, to urge him to reject the EU’s proposed pilot fatigue regulations.

In his letter, Scott Maurer says: “All of these proposals risk the safety of the flying public and the pilots who provide these services.

“We also note that there is a lack of science in the development of these proposals.”

He went on to say: “What value do you place on your loved ones?

“How do you value the loss that would occur if a commercial aircraft crashed into a crowded arena because of fatigued pilots?

“Before our tragedy, I would likely have said: ‘What are the chances that will happen?  One in 20,000,000?

“Sadly, I now know that fatigued pilots increase those odds exponentially.”

Commenting on EASA’s final ‘Opinion’, Jim McAuslan, BALPA General Secretary, said, “There are one or two improvements in this iteration of the rules but, by and large, these proposals are even worse than the previous draft.

”This is not about pilots wanting to work less.

“The overall number of hours pilots will fly in a year will remain the same, but the distribution of those hours can be done in a safe, or unsafe way.

“The UK currently has the safest skies in Europe, but the Government seems ready to ditch all that in favour of harmonisation.  Neither pilots nor the travelling public will understand the sense in that.

“The science tells us these rules are unsafe; the House of Commons Transport Select Committee says these rules are unsafe; thousands of pilots and safety campaigners across Europe say these rules are unsafe and now the Continental families add their voice too. What will it take for the UK Government to pay attention?”

Scott Maurer told the Minister: “In the United States it is often said that aviation safety reform is written in blood.”We don’t want to have to wait for needless deaths in Britain before getting safe fatigue rules here.”

BALPA officials are due to meet the Transport Minister, Simon Burns, later this month.  They say they will be demanding that the Coalition government commits itself to adding safety enhancements to the EU rules to cover ‘black holes’ which they believe would damage airline safety provisions for the UK.


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