What is the issue?

Flight and Duty Time Limitations (FTL) are necessary to ensure that air crew fatigue does not endanger flight safety. Since the 1944 Chicago Convention, it is recognised that pilot fatigue (due to long duty hours, insufficient rest/sleep opportunities etc.) can pose a risk to the safety of air operations. Within the EU, this risk is addressed at two levels. Firstly, by EU-wide binding FTL rules (enshrined in EU Reg. 83/2014). Secondly, at company level, among others by sound rostering practices, Collective Labour Agreements, and/or Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS).

How is ECA involved?

ECA has been a long-standing supporter of harmonised FTL across the EU. Harmonisation at the highest, scientifically derived safety level will help to create a level playing field within the EU. For over a decade, ECA contributed to the development of the 1st generation of EU-wide FTL rules (‘EU OPS Subpart Q’ , July 2008-Feb. 2016), as well as to the 2nd generation of EU FTL rules – the ‘EASA FTL’ – applicable since 18 Feb. 2016). Apart from interacting with the EU Institutions, including the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), ECA monitors national implementation of FTL rules, scientific fatigue research as well as the development & implementation of Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) at company level. ECA also developed an online FTL calculator for the EASA FTL rules (see links below).

pilot fatigue
Why is the issue important to ECA?

Due to increasing competitive pressures in aviation, many companies use their flight crews more intensively. To ensure that this does not result in pilot fatigue and a risk to our passengers, strong FTL rules are required  and be applied effectively. Any attempts to interpret and apply the rules in a way that compromises safety must be prevented. Crucially, the EU need to continue to improve its pilot fatigue rules, by basing them on a sound scientific basis, as required by ICAO standards. With a wide body of science available, ECA advocates for safe science-based rules and the implementation of robust fatigue risk management at company level.  Passenger’ safety comes first - always.

Who is responsible?
  • Executive Board Directors:  Clemens Kopetz
  • Staff members: Philip von Schöppenthau
  • Working Group: Flight Time Limitations (FTL WG)
  • Chairman: Didier Moraine, Vice-Chairman: George Karambilas


External Links

LSE study

Pilots are tired. What else did the LSE Study show us?

The London School of Economics (LSE) Study – revealing that pilot fatigue is a clear and present concern for European pilots – was one of the most memorable readings in 2016. But there’s much more to that study that remained beyond the headlines – facts and trends about pilots feeling

News article