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Luxembourg and seven EU Member States call for a socially responsible reconstruction of Europe’s aviation after the COVID pandemic

Yesterday the transport ministers of Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal signed a joint declaration [LINK] calling for a "socially responsible" aviation in Brussels. The signatories call on the European Commission and the other EU Member States to put the social rights of employees first in the recovery of Europe’s aviation, which finds itself in an unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration highlights that the COVID-19 crisis exposes some of the deep changes of the aviation industry that ...
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/ ALPL

COVID-19 crisis and its effect on aviation mental health

Joint statement by the European Pilot Peer Support Initiative (EPPSI) and their founding organisations:  European Association for Aviation Psychology (EAAP), European Cockpit Association (ECA); European Society of Aerospace Medicine (ESAM) and Mayday Foundation Airlines, aviation organisations and their employees were not prepared for a pandemic, like COVID-19. Most European and international airlines have stopped flying or are focussing on cargo flights, medical and rescue operations or return flights. Most countries have issued strict quarantine and physical distancing measures. The COVID-19 crisis exposes all flight crews, their ...
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Working ‘ZERO’ During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As a regional pilot for a national flag carrier you are often seen by the public as the image of the airline. Professional, competent and reliable. We fly our passengers to their vacation destinations; city breaks or business trips and reunite them with their family and friends. The last few weeks have been uncertain. When the outbreak in Europe was at its beginning there was not much information on what precautions we should take or what was expected of us. We have procedures in case ...
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/ ALPL, Public

Working at MAXIMUM Capacity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

While cargo airlines - in particular the national one - are well known in Luxembourg, outside of Luxembourg pilots flying cargo aeroplanes are often seen as “second-class” pilots by the broader public. Sometimes they are even asked if they are “not good enough” to fly passengers or “when would they be allowed to fly passengers”? The job of a cargo pilot certainly comes without all the glamour that accompanies airline pilots in the typical Hollywood movies. However, only known to few fellow aviators, life in ...
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/ ALPL, Public

Impact of COVID-19 on pilots’ profession – Open Letter

Dear Mrs Vălean, Dear Mr Schmit, The ongoing, fast-evolving COVID-19 crisis with the extremely severe knock-on effects on the economy represents an unprecedented challenge for our European societies. It is our collective responsibility, with the European institutions and national authorities at the forefront, to step up to this challenge. High-performing air mobility is one of the foundations of any strong and prosperous economy. What matters today is therefore to preserve a functioning European air transport industry, as essential long-term public infrastructure, and as a significant ...
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/ ALPL, Public

“A change is gonna come”

Unfortunately, this is not going to be a neat editorial with a thoughtful message, or a well-structured narrative and a satisfying ending. As I write this, the World Health Organisation has just declared the Coronavirus outbreak and spread of Covid-19 a pandemic, and all of our plans, expectations, and usual assumptions are being tossed in the bin. It is foremost a public health emergency, but the effect of the virus, and the measures needed to try and mitigate its spread, are an economic emergency too ...
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/ ALPL

Fitting rules to reality

An attentive EU-policy connoisseur knows that the revision of EU Air Services Regulation 1008/2008 is coming soon. This major piece of legislation sets the fundaments of how the aviation business works in Europe. It covers anything from licensing, leasing, to airline Ownership & Control rules. And unsurprisingly, it is unfit for purpose (read this if you want to know why).  At the 13th Air Forum in Florence, industry stakeholders discussed how to make it ‘fit’. 1008/2008 regulates with the default assumption that airlines offer air ...
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The 3 ‘should-bes’ of pilot training

By the time you are reading this article, 80% of people would have failed to achieve their 2020 New Year’s Resolutions. Millions of people worldwide pledge at the beginning of each year to introduce sweeping changes, mostly aiming at a better & healthier lifestyle, only to drop their ambitious plan several weeks later.  Revamping pilot training has become a somewhat similar tradition as the New Year’s Resolutions. Year on year, the industry pledges to improve training in an effort to create ‘flight-deck ready’ pilots. This ...
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Championing the liberalisation

Europe is showing a misplaced pride in the new wave of liberalisation in air transport. The ongoing and recently concluded air transport agreements with 3rd countries still carry a strong liberal footprint but have made only a modest attempt at protecting fair competition and EU social standards. If Europe is serious about maintaining high social standards and fair competition in aviation, it should quickly get its act together. When in 2015 the European Commission presented its Aviation Strategy, it became clear that negotiating Air Transport ...
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Enforcement of the applicable law to aircrew – ACP, ECA & EurECCA common views

The aviation sector is particularly exposed to non-compliance with applicable law and misapplication of EU legislation in general. The reason identified by many is the transnational nature of the airlines’ operations and, consequently, the highly mobile character of the pilots/aircrew jobs that makes it difficult to determine the law applicable to employees as well as the State(s) with the regulatory oversight responsibility (incl. in the employment and taxation domains). Executive Summary  This paper concerns applicable legislation both from a social security (Regulation 883/2004) and an ...
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(Bogus) Self-employment in aviation – ACP, ECA & EurECCA common views

Bogus self-employment is preventing the good functioning of the European aviation market and impacting negatively the working conditions of aircrew. This paper demonstrates that self-employment in commercial air transportation is unlikely to exist. Executive summary A commercial airline pilot cannot exercise his/her profession without the continuous supervision and monitoring by the operator, as required by EASA Regulations. The pilot does not have control over cost and pricing, neither owns the aircraft she/he flies or decides (how), when and where to fly. Such regulatory and organisational ...
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Boeing training lesson

From its inception, Boeing’s 737 Max was designed to save airlines the expense of training pilots on flight simulators. Simulator training costs money, which few in the aviation industry are keen on spending. “No additional simulator training” became a key – and successful – selling point for the MAX, which is perhaps symptomatic of the entire aviation industry’s race to the bottom and intense commercial pressure in all parts of the aviation chain. The latest batch of internal Boeing messages reveal the extent to which ...
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Low Visibility Operations… based on what?

A bright sunny day, but a persistent stratiform cloud blocks the view of the runway when approaching the minimums. Or even worse, more than sufficient visibility, but a thick cloud layer extends below CAT 1 minimums and Low Visibility Operations (LVO) are not (yet) activated… A go-around seems imminent while the weather forecast and ATIS information may not have caused you to expect this course of action.  This is why we put together brief guidance with mitigating measures that could help crews operating into any airport, ...
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/ ALPL

ECA News in Brief #1

Follow this link to read the first edition of ECA's News in Brief ...
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Flying in hostile airspace costs lives. Time for pragmatic solutions

Europe’s pilots are shocked and deeply saddened by the shooting down of Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752 in Iran and the killing of all on board. This comes only a few years after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), in 2014. It is tragic proof that some lessons from MH17 on flying into or over conflict zones have not been learnt, and that Europe has no effective system in place to reduce those risks. Having seen major airlines continue flying to Tehran in the ...
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A new EU Transport ambition

Adina-Ioana Vălean – This is the name aviation professionals in Europe will hear very often in the next 5 years. As the new EU Commissioner in charge of transport Ms Vălean will be the driving force of safe, efficient, sustainable and socially-responsible transport in Europe. Behind those terms is an ambitious agenda, already outlined by the new Commissioner – who comes from Romania – at the EU Parliament hearing earlier this year ...
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Space-Wx on ICAO radar screen

The time has come: Early November ICAO launched real-time worldwide space weather update service. Three Space Weather Centers (SWXC) will generate and share space weather advisories using the existing channels, similar to SIGMET. The advisories can thereby go directly to aircraft operators and flight crew throughout the flight as standard meteorological information.  The advisories are providing the most up to date information possible on any solar events, which could potentially impact aircraft systems or passenger health ...
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Aviation partners agree joint principles for safe integration of drones

Members of Europe’s leading aviation associations have today published a joint paper setting out the principles to support the safe integration into European airspace of unmanned aircraft, or ‘drones’. This is one of the most critical issues facing the aviation industry today. Drones will revolutionise many aspects of everyday life, from the way people travel, to agriculture, policing, mapping, deliveries, maintenance, asset management and construction. However, their proliferation also raises questions about how to handle their integration without compromising safety or security or disrupting current ...
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True colours

Despite the occasional outcry about the “greedy” pilots on strike, all crew and many passengers do understand that negotiations with the employers can result in a deadlock which can at times lead to a strike. The current industrial disputes in numerous airlines across Europe have proven to be a pressure test for airline managers and their true colours. Negotiating terms and conditions between pilot unions and airlines is always a challenge. It often creates a period with high tensions between the two parties that could ...
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A Social Agenda for Europe’s Aviation

Europe’s Single Aviation Market has been instrumental in creating new market opportunities, stimulating growth and boosting connectivity. Airlines and their employees have been the driving forces behind this success story, allowing the traveling public wider choice, better prices and quality service. At the same time, the Single Market focused on economic freedoms and opportunities, while social aspects & regulations remained mainly national. This means they are subject to significant differences between the legal systems of EU Member States and subject to uneven control and enforcement ...
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/ ALPL

Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Very Low Level airspace

The safe and efficient co-existence of manned and unmanned aircraft in the airspace is one of the major challenges in aviation for the next decades. The rapid growth in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), civil and military, has increased the demand for access to non-segregated airspace. It is recognised that the use of small UAS at lower altitudes is now a driving force of economic development. This revolution, based on a ‘disruptive’ technology, has already created new services in many fields of activity and new possibilities ...
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A short-sighted piece of aviation law is annexing little pieces of your country

Imagine that Guinness, the Irish maker of the nutritious, smooth and dark nectar, wanted to sell some more of the beloved beer. Seeing an opportunity, it decides that Germany, with its tradition of clean, crisp Pilsner would benefit from a broadening of the taste buds. This could be an ideal market in which to offer an alternative to the usual German drink of choice, and indeed with superior Teutonic brewing knowhow, plentiful clean mountain water, reduced transport costs, and to meet the expected demand, the ...
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What went right! The Viking Sky rescue mission through the eyes of the crew

A successful rescue mission in fierce weather that captivated the world on 23 March 2019. This is the story of the Viking Sky: a cruise ship with 1373 people on board which lost power off the coast of Norway. The strong winds and high waves made the rescue operation even more dramatic. A second ship in the vicinity running into trouble, added to the already highly challenging situation.  The world watched with distress the images that emerged from the cruise ship and followed on (social) ...
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Broker agencies, broken standards

If a pilot is looking for a job and goes online to check the vacancies, it comes as no surprise that broker agencies dominate the job market. In the past decade brokers – in all shapes and sizes – have filled a void created by airlines who were not able or willing to offer permanent or stable jobs.  Instead, brokers started offering screening and recruitment, training programmes, Pay-to-Fly schemes and in some cases – actual job opportunities. But the rise of temporary work agencies has ...
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Before Boeing’s MAX return to service: we need answers and transparency

Regulators from across the globe are meeting today in Texas (USA), to discuss a possible return to service of the grounded Boeing 737 MAX. The FAA is currently reviewing Boeing’s proposed ‘software fix’ and is already looking ahead at taking the plane back to the sky. For European pilots, having closely followed the developments and revelations in the past months, it is deeply disturbing that both the FAA and Boeing are considering a return to service, but failing to discuss the many challenging questions prompted ...
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Three years of harmonised fatigue for European pilots

Have you ever checked your watch halfway through a long day at work, wishing it was over, turned to your co-worker, and with a smile discovered they had nodded off at their desk? Rather a lot of Europe’s pilots have too, though probably without the smile. In February 2016, after over a decade of false starts and wrangling, pilots and cabin crew throughout Europe finally became subject to a single harmonised set of rules to limit the way in which flights can be scheduled and ...
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Enhanced pilot background checks to feature intelligence information

A new revision of the EU regulation on pilots’ background checks introduces an “intelligence pillar” as of 31 Dec 2020. The new requirement to include and analyse intelligence information will become a mandatory element of the thorough background checks which pilots undergo every 5 year. Such checks are vital for aviation security and assess pilots’ trustworthiness. Currently, authorities look at education, employment and criminal records. But the revision of the Regulation adds intelligence background information as a mandatory requirement for a successful background check.  This ...
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Recruiting & assessing the pilots: Who does what?

The industry is ripe for a new approach to recruiting & assessing pilots The way we screen and recruit pilot cadets in Europe is an issue that lately has been raising eyebrows amongst industry experts. Today, the bulk of training schools screen their future clients – the cadets – themselves. The industry has turned a blind eye to this conflict of interest for years as it suited almost everyone.  Regrettably, to many Approved Training Organisations (ATOs), a pilot candidate equals profit. Hence – to make a ...
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With drones, who has the ‘skin in the game’?

“Go Around.” These words, and the reactions to them, are some of the most important to a pilot, whether initiated themselves or by air traffic controllers. They are probably the words that have prevented more accidents than any other, and would have avoided many that did happen, if they’d only been used. And why that inward reaction? Well ‘going around’ certainly means your workload is about to go up, along with the plane. It also means you’re probably avoiding something dangerous in the immediate future ...
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The future holds… more wet-leasing

Wet-leasing is the practice of airlines hiring aircraft with crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) to either cover an unforeseen short-term need or when business needs a longer-term (seasonal) capacity increase without necessarily buying and manning new aircraft. Wet-leasing is growing rapidly and experts predict such leasing agreements to become both longer in time and more frequent in nature in 2019. Wet-lease operators seem to agree with this outlook and have started preparations by consolidating, growing their fleet and increasing wet-lease offerings. What lies behind this ...
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New Authority to fix disorderly EU employment rules?

Was the EU Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen right to tell Michael O’Leary that the “EU internal market is not a jungle” and there are rules that employers should abide by?  Her statement was indeed correct. But it was also a highly optimistic representation of reality on the ground and revealed how powerless the EU can sometimes be. This may now change with the project of a new EU Labour Authority (ELA), that would allow employees and employers to deal more easily with complex aspects of ...
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Major opportunity to stop Pay-to-Fly!

Remember Pay-to-Fly (P2F) schemes where pilots pay the airline to operate on regular commercial flights with passengers onboard? These practices haven’t stopped. Instead, they have become the quasi-standard path for young pilots entering the profession. In addition to being highly abusive, P2F could also constitute a passenger safety risk. The good news is that there is a major opportunity to ban P2F in Europe: the EU Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions. It clarifies essential elements of employment contracts and establishes baseline rights for employees ...
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Where are the pilots of tomorrow?

We all agree that European aviation needs skilled, talented flight crews to underpin the growing aviation sector. But where to find and how to attract them? The question is even more pressing now that airlines have woken up to the fact that the pilots queuing at their doorsteps, coming from varied supply sources, may not always be up to the airline quality standards. The solution – as ECA outlines in a recent position paper – will require sweeping changes: a different approach to candidate screening, improving ...
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Making the case for women in aviation

What image do you associate with a “pilot”? Most likely, 9 out 10 would imagine a typical white, male pilot in a uniform.  This image is so deeply engrained in our conscience that it has become an additional career barrier for aspiring female pilots. This barrier comes on top of the already very expensive pilot training, which is often cited as the largest obstacle on the way to the cockpit. Women pilots rarely say they have been informed about the pilot career as a potential ...
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The best is yet to come …

Next year will be an election year: we will elect the new Members of the European Parliament and a new European Commission will be appointed. With the major political parties already in campaigning mode, it’s time to look at the achievements of the current Commission. And also to remind about some of the promises that were made almost four years ago. Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission wanted to “ensure that social dumping has no place in the European Union." In fact, we see ...
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Commander’s Discretion – a bet on the future with a high degree of uncertainty

Under the EASA Flight Time Limitations, the maximum flight duty period (FDP) may be extended by up to 2 hours at the Commander’s Discretion ('CD') or even 3 hours if in-flight rest facilities are provided. As explained in a recent ECA “SpotOn” guidance paper, this extension of a regular flight duty must be understood as a very exceptional ‘fix’ for some of the uncertainties in commercial aviation. Because even an operator’s most cautious planning of flight pattern cannot cover all circumstances causing delay or excessive ...
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Anyone can become a pilot …

The truth about pilot shortage is far more elaborate than what many in the industry are trying to portray. Factors such as the region, type of operation, experience level of the pilot group need to be considered each time we speak about “the pilot shortage”. So it’s time we stop talking about the pilot shortage and how to fix it. Instead, it is time the industry and aviation authorities look at the policies and practices for attracting, selecting, training and enabling the right talent, as ...
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EU Aviation Summit – amid calls for better social standards

Major European airlines, pilots and cabin crew organisations are joining forces to demand decent social standards and clear rules for the industry to abide by. The call comes when aviation stakeholders & decision-makers meet in Vienna for the high-level European Aviation Summit under the Austrian Presidency. Just a day before, several Transport Ministers urged the EU Commission to come up with concrete measures to achieve a ‘socially responsible connectivity’ and to ensure healthy and fair competition on Europe’s aviation market.  After years of operating in a ...
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Public Call for Action for a meaningful Social Pillar for Europe’s Aviation

Open letter to Commissioners Bulc & Thyssen by the European Cockpit Association (ECA) Dear Commissioners, One year ago, we jointly discussed the need to fill the ‘Social Agenda’ chapter of the Commission’s EU Aviation Strategy with concrete life (see here). One year later, we are still awaiting concrete proposals and initiatives on this Social Agenda. Especially on precarious atypical crew employment, applicable law & jurisdiction, 3rd country crews, and growing social dumping practices. Social Dialogue – both at national and EU level – has, since ...
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Ryanair Pilots’ common requests to their management

Ryanair pilots across Europe are united in their determination to engage in meaningful and genuine Social Dialogue with management on issues of common concern to those who contribute to the airline’s success on a daily basis. In order to allow pilots to consider Ryanair as an attractive employer, not just as a place to start but also as a place to continue their career, several key issues need to be tackled across the entire network. These include: 1) Adequate framework for social dialogue & negotiations ...
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