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European Union: Revision of Flight Restrictions and Rest Requirements for Pilots

(July 17, 2013) On July 12, 2013, the Council of the European Union endorsed new rules proposed by the European Commission concerning the flight and duty limitations and rest requirements for pilots contained in Regulation No. 3922/1991. (Press Release, IP/13/690, European Commission, Aviation Safety: Member States Support the Revision of Aircrew Fatigue Rules (July 2, 2013).)

The Commission was prompted to revise the rules on air crew fatigue and other safety issues because of new scientific and international information. Prior to adopting the proposal, the Commission also had extensive consultations with air crew unions, the European Parliament, and EU Member States. In addition, the Commission took into account an opinion adopted in 2012 by the European Aviation Agency, which assists the Commission with preparing guidance materials. (Opinion No. 04/2012 for a Regulation Establishing Implementing Rules on Flight and Duty Time Limitations and Rest Requirements (FTL) for Commercial Air Transport (CAT) with Aeroplanes [and related documents], European Aviation Safety Agency (Sept. 28, 2012).)

A key highlight of the proposal is that it would reduce the maximum period of nighttime duties from the existing 11 hours and 45 minutes to 11 hours. EU Members also endorsed the requirement to manage duty rosters, including night duties that last longer than ten hours, through the use of fatigue management principles. (Press Release, supra.)