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Aviation: Working Hours

Transport written question – answered on 15th October 2012.

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Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith Conservative, Richmond Park

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport

(1) whether the relevant trades unions representing airline pilots in the UK have agreed to the implementation of the new rules on flight time limitations proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency;

(2) what medical evidence his Department has gathered on the capacity of the new rules on flight time limitations proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency to ensure the same level of safety for the travelling public as the existing Civil Aviation Authority rules; how many additional hours commercial airline pilots may be required to work in any given duty period under the new rules compared to the present system; and what comparative assessment he has made of the new rules and rules governing flight time limitations in the US;

(3) what steps he plans to take to integrate the European Aviation Standards Agency’s proposals on flight time limitations into UK aviation safety requirements;

(4) what steps he plans to take to maintain UK standards and protections for airline pilots’ flying time limitations after the implementation of the European Aviation Standards Agency harmonisation proposals; and if he will take an active role in protecting and promoting UK standards on airline pilots’ flying time limitations in the development of European standards;

(5) what plans he has for implementation of new flight time limitation rules proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns The Minister of State, Department for Transport

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is still considering the responses to its consultation on flight time limitations. We do not yet know what the final proposal will contain. We will consider our position, taking into account advice from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), once a final set of rules has been proposed.

Voting on the European Commission regulation adopting implementing rules on flight time limitations will be by qualified majority voting; we will not support the proposed rules if the CAA advises that they do not provide an adequate level of protection against fatigue. The rules will be directly applicable in all member states; opt outs from the proposed implementing rules are not permitted by the enabling legislation, adopted in 2008.

The relevant trade unions representing airline pilots in the United Kingdom have responded to EASA’s consultation; we are aware that they have some concerns on the proposals which we have discussed with them on a number of occasions.

The CAA has reviewed the latest draft of the proposals published by EASA on 18 January 2012. The CAA has advised that the package of proposals as currently drafted contains a number of welcome provisions that will deliver a significant improvement in safety across the European Union as a whole. The CAA also considers the package provides a similar level of safety to the rules adopted in the United States and will not lead to any diminution in safety in the UK. I am satisfied with the CAA’s advice which takes into account relevant operational, scientific and medical opinion.

The CAA’s detailed evidence to the Transport Select Committee inquiry on flight time limitations, including comparisons on flight duty periods, and the Government’s Response to the Committee’s report are published on the Parliament website at:

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