safety issues

Pilots fear EU push for 16-hour workday

Swedish pilots warn that proposed EU rules on working hours could be dangerous. The Swedish Pilot Association already found in a survey that half of pilots have fallen asleep while on duty, and 70 percent of respondents admitted to making mistakes due to fatigue.

Despite complaints from not only Swedish but other European nations' pilot associations, the European Bureau for Air Traffic Security wants to prolong the legal upper limit for pilots' working hours. When there are flight delays, a pilot can be required to work for up to 16 hours.

"You're dangerously tired after 14 hours on duty and independent medical studies commissioned by the Bureau have shown this. Regardless, they want to stretch out working hours which I find remarkable," says Gunnar Mundahl, president of the Swedish Pilot Association, to the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.

The European Pilot Association has also made its disapproval of the proposal known. It wants to cap working hours at 13 hours, which can be stretched to 14 hours only twice a week, or to 15 in cases of delay.

If the new working hours proposal is passed in the EU parliament, it will become binding for all member states.