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AIRPLANE

Half of Swedish pilots fall asleep in the cockpit

More than half the pilots in the Swedish Airline Pilots' Association (Svensk pilotförening, SPF) admit to having fallen asleep during flights, according to a new independent study.

Half of Swedish pilots fall asleep in the cockpit

The study, which included responses from 625 pilots working at all the different airlines in Sweden, also found that 70 percent of them admitted to having made mistakes caused by tiredness, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reported.

In addition, 80 percent of Swedish pilots reported that existing work hour rules “constitute a threat to flight safety”.

According to current EU regulations, a pilot is allowed to work shifts as lengthy as 13 hours, sometimes with two additional hours of overtime.

“These results are alarming and we’re naturally very concerned,” said Mattias Kling, coordinator for work hour issues at the SPF.

“We can’t accept that half the pilots have fallen asleep in the cockpit.”

And despite the alarming study, there’s a proposition to extend allowed the length of pilot shifts to 16 hours.

“A pilot on duty also needs to get to the airport which often takes time. Then add to that 16 hours of continuous work. Is it safe to fly with that pilot?” Kling told TT.

Kling doesn’t want to comment on the risk this poses to passengers, but he’s not happy with current regulations, and pilots now demand that these be based on scientific findings.

“If you don’t have scientific facts you need to practice the precautionary principle,” Kling said.

“You have to be certain what the rules you impose mean. That’s the message we want to get across.”

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SAS

Swedish pilots fail to reach deal with SAS

A deal between Swedish pilots and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is being automatically extended a week at a time after the agreement ended at midnight on Tuesday.

Swedish pilots fail to reach deal with SAS
Negotiations between Swedish pilots' unions and SAS are ongoing. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Meanwhile, their Danish counterparts penned a new deal with SAS at the eleventh hour.

"Together with the Danish Pilots' Association, we have taken a great step forward and signed an agreement that reflects today's competition in the market," said SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson in a press release.

"Negotiations have been long and at times intense, but they have always been constructive and carried out in a good tone. SAS wishes to keep the Scandinavian model, with deals on effective and competitive conditions. The demands are necessary and essential to maintain our Scandinavian work places," Niels Møller, chairman of Danish pilots' union DPF added.

SAS has previously said it wants to simplify the current, very detailed, agreement. The company also wants greater flexibility to appoint seasonal workers. Current staffing levels are adapted to the summer season, when the airline carries more passengers, which creates higher costs during the not as busy winter months.

The company said its ambition is to sign similar deals with its Swedish and Norwegian pilots, but had by midnight on Tuesday failed to come to an agreement.

The deal with Swedish pilots' unions will now continue to be extended on a weekly basis until June 1st at the latest, unless either party terminates it before then.

“This gives the parties a bit of breathing space to find a solution,” Tommy Larsson of pilots' union 'Svensk pilotförening' told news wire TT.

The union has so far not wanted to comment on its own position.

“I can't say anything else at present. Negotiations are ongoing and we will see where they head,” Larsson told TT.

Earlier this month, both SAS and Norwegian pilots went on strike in Scandinavia to protest their wages and conditions.

Norwegian — Europe's third-largest budget airline — struck a deal with pilots after an eleven day walkout affecting around 200,000 passengers.

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