Could plans to reform pilot flying hours increase risk of accidents?

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MPs have reported on proposed changes to flying hours for pilots, deciding that the reforms could put passengers at risk. The EU is currently considering harmonisation of the rules on the number of hours pilots can fly.

At the centre of its proposals are the introduction of 11-hour night shifts for pilots.  MPs say these changes would make pilot-fatigue worse which, in turn, could increase the risk of air accidents.

These proposals will alarm anyone who travels by air, no matter how frequently or infrequently.

A survey conducted by the British Airline Pilots Association previously found that 43% of members reported falling asleep while working, and an estimated 15-20% of fatal air accidents are attributed to human error caused by fatigue.

It is surprising to see the EU introducing measures which, while bringing greater flexibility for airlines, could put air travellers at risk.

The reforms have the support of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) but MPs have suggested by harmonising rules across the EU there will be a "lowest common denominator" approach.  Hopefully, the concerns highlighted by MPs will be taken on board by the European Air Safety Agency as it finalises its proposed changes.

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