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EU Parliament approves working time changes for pilots

The European Parliament has approved a community-wide ceiling on flying hours for pilots and cabin crews. A majority of lawmakers voted for the proposal which lowers work times in order to prevent fatigue.

Parliament members voted on Wednesday in Strasbourg to shorten pilot service times of night flights from 11 hours and 45 minutes to 11 hours.

Standby duty will also be limited to 16 hours. Pilot associations require no more than ten hours of standby duty due to the risk of of dangerous fatigue.

According to the new rules, the time period of what is deemed to be a night flight will also be extended from between 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. These new times add three hours to the previous standard.

The new rules will be enforced starting next year.

Some parliament members, mainly from the left-leaning and green parties, voted against the new rules because they did not go far enough. Those who voted against the proposal requested a limit on night flights to ten hours. They also complained that the time pilots spend on standby are not classed as working time.

Critics, such as German and other European pilot unions had also criticized the proposal as inadequate.

The proposal still need approval by the EU member states' governments.

hc/rc (AFP, dpa)