New rules proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency would seriously threaten the safety of airline pilots, crew and passengers, says the British Airline Pilots Association, the pilots’ union. For example, pilots could be required to land a plane after having been awake for 22 hours. The union accuses the agency of ignoring scientific advice and points out that even Britain’s present more stringent standards have their own weaknesses, such as the under reporting of fatigue.
The effect on air safety of tired pilots is a growing issue. For example over Canada recently a pilot nodded off and awaking with a start mistook the unusually bright planet Venus for an oncoming aircraft. Following correct procedure he immediately put the plane into a steep turn resulting in extensive injuries to passengers and crew. ■