Following today’s publication of the Laidlaw Report the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has said that it is not only in rail franchising that the Department for Transport has made fundamental mistakes.
The Laidlaw Report into the West Coast rail franchising fiasco is a damning indictment into the Department’s failings which has cost the public and the fare-payer millions of pounds.
BALPA believes civil service failure to provide the best possible information to ministers, and ministers’ failure to ask the right questions, is being replicated in the development of policy into flight time limitations for airline pilots.  But failure on this won’t mean the loss of millions of pounds, but ultimately loss of life.
Current EU proposals on pilot fatigue will see pilots flying more tired more often. In particular, they could see pilots landing aircraft after having been awake for 24 hours or more. This is simply and obviously unsafe.
Jim McAuslan, BALPA General Secretary, said, ‘It is astonishing to pilots and safety campaigners that the Transport Minister has said that he believes these rules are safe.  He says he is following advice from his officials, but today’s report shows the problems that can land you in.
‘Has the Minister asked the important questions? Is it safe to land an aircraft after being awake for 24 hours plus?  How can officials suggest such ultra-long hours are safe? Why are other countries raising serious concerns about these proposals while UK officials say they are happy?
‘The Secretary of State has today said his department needs to learn the lessons of the Laidlaw report.  Quite right, but they must also bear in mind that the problems identified go way beyond just rail franchising.  Our message to the Minister is ask the difficult questions of your officials now to ensure safe fatigue rules into the future.’
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