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U.K. Pilots Asleep on Duty Show EU Plans Pose Risk, Union Says

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Sept. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Most U.K. pilots have fallen asleep in the cockpit, according to a survey for the British Airline Pilots’ Association, which is pressing the European Parliament to reject revisions to existing crew limits.

Fifty-six percent of the 500 pilots surveyed said they had fallen asleep on the flight deck and 29 percent of those said they awoke to find the other pilot sleeping, the union said in a statement today. About half of those surveyed rated pilot fatigue the biggest threat to flight safety.

The European Parliament is set to consider proposals from the European Aviation Safety Agency to amend rules on flight-time limitations as it seeks to end years of wrangling between airlines and the flight crew over the terms. Carriers have been seeking greater flexibility in their use of crew, with pilots saying a relaxation would jeopardize safety.

“Tiredness is already a major challenge for pilots who are deeply concerned that unscientific new EU rules will cut U.K. standards and lead to increased levels of tiredness, which has been shown to be a major contributory factor in air accidents,” Balpa General Secretary Jim McAuslan said in the statement. “Making every flight a safe flight is the number one priority for British pilots.”

The European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Select Committee is due to vote on the proposals on Sept. 30.

McAuslan, who previously said pilots may lose the political fight, said the union may urge members to strike to block carriers from exploiting the new rules.

The proposed regulations “would ensure that Europe will continue to have one of the strictest rules in the world, even stricter than today,” Athar Husain Khan, acting secretary general of the Association of European Airlines representing 31 carriers said in a statement today, calling the proposal “balanced.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Wall in London at rwall6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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