Emirates Airline has slammed reports in an Australian newspaper citing pilot fatigue as the reason for a near miss at Melbourne Airport.
The report claimed that crew did not have sufficient rest before a Melbourne to Dubai flight on March 20.
The news comes at the same time as air crews across Europe are set to demonstrate for exactly the same reason – fatigue, the BBC reports.
European air crew unions argue that the current 14-hour flight working times imposed by the EU is an hour over the accepted scientific limit, and cite fatigue as a factor in 15% of accidents.
In the Melbourne incident, the Dubai-bound aircraft missed the perimeter fence of the airport by centimetres due to a miscalculation by a pilot.
The Herald Sun says the pilot had slept for only three and a half hours in the previous day and was close to his maximum allowed 100 flying hours in the previous month.
However, Emirates’ divisional senior vice-president for commercial operations worldwide, Richard Vaughan, said it had not included “objective” data provided by the company and had quoted anonymous sources.
In the statement Vaughan said: “The crew of EK 407 (Melbourne-Dubai, 20 March) were allocated a 24-hour layover in Melbourne - a sufficient time period to use the rest facilities provided.
“When it released its preliminary report on the event, the Australian Transport & Safety Bureau indicated it had not found any evidence to suggest fatigue was a causal factor.”
The 14-hour EU limit is already in place in some EU countries, but are due to come into force in the UK in 2012.
There will be no demonstrations in the UK, because industrial action by pilots is outlawed.
British pilots are expected to join demonstrations at major airports on the continent with colleagues from 35 other countries.
Speaking to the BBC, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association, Jim McAuslan, said:
“Only fatigue experts understand the impact on a body of flying through so many time zones, having consecutive early starts and late duties and all the other factors that make up a pilot’s life.”
McAuslan said if the 13-hour limit was breached it increases the risk of accidents by five and a half times.
Pilots and air crew have complained that their working conditions have deteriorated as the airline industry cuts costs.
It is not clear whether the action will cause disruption to travellers.