A vote by European MPs will see UK pilots flying longer hours and threatening safety, the British Airline Pilots Association warns.
The union condemned the vote which it claims could see pilots flying passenger aircraft despite having been awake for 22 hours. Pilots are now planning a legal challenge to the decision.
The changes will increase the number of hours a pilot can work in 14 days to 110, compared with the current UK maximum of 95.
Additionally, only two pilots will be needed for a long-haul flight, rather than three under British rules. UK regulations limiting how long a pilot whose flight is delayed is expected to be available for duty will be scrapped
Balpa says this means they could be in the cockpit 22 hours after getting up. The maximum night shift will be increased by one hour from 10 to 11 hours.
But the warnings were disputed by the Civil Aviation Authority and airlines.
The new rules, which come into force within the next two years, needed the backing of both EU ministers and the European parliament.
Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan attacked the European Parliament’s decision to reverse the vote by its transport committee last week.
“British pilots want to make every flight a safe flight and are deeply concerned that these unsafe new EU rules will put the lives of passenger at risk.
“The UK government and flight safety regulator have helped the European Commission force through these rules by dodgy last-minute backroom deals, which have been made up as they have gone along.
“This has been a botched process by the EU from start to finish.
“Passengers and pilots deserve flight safety rules based on rigorous science and evidence, not secret dodgy deal making in Strasbourg, which will mean that Britain no longer has the safest skies in Europe.”
He added: “These rules will see already tired British pilots flying double the number of 5am starts, longer at night and landing a plane having been awake for 22 hours.
“The government should reject these cuts which have been rejected by the EU transport committee, UK MPs, pilots across Britain and Europe, scientists and the British flying public.”
However, the British Air Transport Association welcomed the move.
“We are glad that the European Parliament has agreed with the recommendations from the Commission,” a spokesman told the Daily Telegraph.
“We agree with the Civil Aviation Authority and the European Aviation Safety Agency that it will not put passengers at risk. The new regime will raise standards across Europe.”
As a result of the vote pilots in all 27 member states will be subject to the same rules which were drawn up by the European Aviation Safety Agency.
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