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'Fatigued pilots won't make for a happy holiday season' MP backs local pilot in bid to keep airlines safe

July 3, 2012 9:40 AM

Tim Farron, met with local airline pilot, Captain David Hunt, to listen to his concerns about the changes to the EU Flight Time Limitations DirectiveSouth Lakes MP, Tim Farron, met with local airline pilot, Captain David Hunt, to listen to his concerns about the changes to the EU Flight Time Limitations Directive, which could see pilots landing after being awake for up to 22 hours, potentially jeopardising the safety of passengers.

With the school summer holidays just weeks away, and with them the busiest time for airline flights, Tim met with Captain Hunt, from Beetham as part of a Lobby of Parliament organised by the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA).

BALPA argue that the new proposals put forward by the European Aviation Safety Agency's (EASA) were developed without using scientific data and could have a grave impact on the safety of UK aviation. The new rules would allow for:
- Pilots to legally be allowed to land an aircraft having been awake for 22 hours;
- Pilots to operate long haul flights with only 2 crew rather than the current 3 removing the opportunity for rest breaks;
- Pilots to be forced to work up to 7 early starts in a row, which is proven to cause dangerous cumulative fatigue.

BALPA have been lobbying the Department for Transport to intervene to secure significant improvements to the more permissive proposals.

Commenting Tim said: "It was very interesting to meet with David to hear a firsthand account of the impact of fatigue on pilots and safety. I am extremely concerned about the safety implications that the relaxation of the rules through these new Flight Time Limitation proposals could lead to.

"Our aviation industry prides itself on incredibly high standards and a strong reputation for safety and BALPA is absolutely right to fight to secure amendments to these rules to protect the safety both of pilots and of passengers."

Captain Hunt said: "Currently, the UK has one of the best safety records in the world. This is based on world renowned training, excellent maintenance and scientifically derived flight time limitations. However, we are at risk of jeopardising this in the name of flight time limitation harmonisation across Europe.

"We should not be harmonising to the lowest common denominator but, instead, ensuring that all countries in Europe operate to the highest, medically & scientifically based standards. The UK's professional pilots believe that every passenger has the right to board an aircraft in the knowledge that the pilots are well rested - in the future, if these proposals are enacted, this may no longer be the case."