Flight time limitations – progressing safety harmonization

On the occasion of the new Regulation 83/2014 EU, adopted on 31 January 2014, and as a result of the enormous interest in the issue of the working time of the aircrews, an extraordinary meeting of Cabin Crew Committee (CCC) and Pilots Working Group (PWG) of the Civil Aviation Section (CAS), ETF was held on 4 February 2014 in Brussels. For more than 5 hours was performed a thorough detailed analysis of the ETF participation in the modification process of pre-existing norms. For the first time pilots and cabin crew will have uniform rules for working hours to protect them from exhaustion. They are supposed to provide over a higher level of safety by establishing legally set minimum requirements, as opposed to the current regulations. Due to the importance of the topic the meeting was attended in person by the President and the Vice presidents of the Civil Aviation Section ETF Enrique Carmona, Oliver Richardson and Ekaterina Yordanova. Mila Nikolova, member of the Committee, represented FTTUB. While not all of ETF’s requests were met in full in the Regulation, the CAS and the Federation as a whole supported this positive step in the harmonization of rules across the European Union and issued a purposive statement.

On 31 January 2014, the European Commission adopted a Regulation defining EU-wide rules on Flight Time Limitations (FTL) for European cabin crew and pilots. Thanks to the strong pressure of the European Transport Workers ’Federation (ETF) and other stakeholders, the original EASA proposal has been improved.

A number of significant concerns for workers have been addressed, protecting against the risk of fatigue in aircrew, and therefore the initial opposition to this legislation was dropped.

For the first time aircrew will have harmonized FTL that protects them against fatigue.

The safety of the traveling public and of aircrew has always been ETF’s first priority in the preparation of the European FTL Regulation. Since the beginning of the rulemaking process, the ETF has always been in favour of European-wide FTL for aircrew that take into account of all relevant recent and publicly available scientific, medical studies/evaluations and/or operational experience, as well as the outcome from ICAO on FRMS. These will continue to be the priorities of the ETF.

The current and the future FTL safety rules will not affect the applicable EU and national legislation on social issues, including working time, health and safety at work and labour agreements. If current or future legislation or collective agreements on social issues are more restrictive than FTL rules, they will continue to prevail over the harmonised safety FTL rules. As regards the relation between safety and social rules, the principle is based on the undisputed principle that the most protective rule applies. In addition, thousands of cabin crew and pilots who have no collective agreements today will be protected.

Some of our affiliates consider that the safety non-regression clause should be binding and stronger and that their collective agreements will be affected negatively by the new FTL rules.

Majority of the affiliated unions see significant and positive steps within the legislation, which ultimately takes safety harmonization in the right direction of providing positive standards for all European airlines and workers.

This Regulation is a new start, stakeholders, including the ETF, will remain involved in all future developments on FTL. The first step will be to do our utmost to have the best implementation possible in all countries. Going forward ETF will monitor and evaluate the rules so that safety can be correctly applied everywhere, and where necessary improved as part of the on-going review process.

In conclusion, in the vast majority of the EU-member states, this Regulation will improve the safety of the passengers by reducing the fatigue of the aircrew, harmonising at the same time all the elements of the FTL. However, the ETF will continue its fight to achieve even higher safety standards.