LONDON, September 27, 2013 (AFP) – More than half of Britain’s airline pilots have fallen asleep in the cockpit and a third have woken up to find their co-pilot asleep, according to a new survey. The BALPA survey comes ahead of a vote in the European parliament on Monday on proposals to set out maximum working hours for pilots and other airline staff.
BALPA has described the changes as “dangerous”, saying they could require pilots to stay awake for 22 hours at a stretch.
This would give pilots a “level of tiredness that is the equivalent of being four times over the legal alcohol limit for flying”, the group claimed.
“Tiredness is already a major challenge for pilots who are deeply concerned that unscientific new EU rules will cut UK standards,” said BALPA’s General Secretary Jim McAuslan.
Among other limits, the new regulations would mean European pilots would be unable to fly or wait at an airport on standby for more than 16 hours.
While this is a lower limit than that currently in place in some EU countries — such as Spain, where they can fly and be on standby for up to 26 hours at a stretch — it is higher than the current British limit of 14 hours.