The new legislative proposal on flight time limitations (FTL), which the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) should publish before the end of September, will represent a "small step forward" but it will not contain modifications that would "sufficiently guarantee safety," according to the European Cockpit Association (ECA). And the legislative process itself "has turned out to be a charade," ECA President Nico Voorbach commented. The ECA represents over 38,000 European pilots from the national pilot associations in 37 European states.

The first draft of modifications to the existing FTL rules was published by the EASA in December 2010, and it has been the subject of intense and emotional debates between pilots and airlines ever since. The ECA insists that long duty hours and short rest periods for pilots can increase the risk of accidents associated with air crew fatigue. Airlines, on the other hand, argue that the EASA's proposals are sufficient and that the new rules "will be among the most stringent in the world".

According to ECA Secretary-General Philip von Schoppenthau, who is also a member of the EASA's OPS.055 consultative group, the new proposal would reduce the maximum flight duty period at night to 11 hours (45 minutes less than under the current regime). For daytime flights, the maximum duty period would be 13 hours. Airlines would have the possibility to extend, two times a week, the maximum duty period by an hour, but in that case the occasional extension (normally two hours) will be reduced to one hour. As a result, the flight duty cannot exceed 15 hours. The EASA would also set the flight time limit at maximum...

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