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Chapter 5. Flight Time Limitations Scheme

Table of Contents
5.1. Warning
5.2. Definitions
5.3. Days Off
5.4. Required rest
5.5. Maximum Flight Duty
5.6. Consecutive night, early start and late finish duties
5.7. Cumulative limits
5.8. Standby
5.9. Transitions
5.10. Pre and post flight duties
5.11. Miscellaneous

5.1. Warning

With the introduction of EASA FTL and ongoing union negotiations across multiple nations, FTL has become a fast moving, confused and highly complex topic. This section represents my best understanding of how easyJet FTL applies to a UK pilot as of 6th April 2016.

5.2. Definitions

Duty period: Any continuous period where a crew member is required to carry out a task associated with easyJet business.

Flight duty period: The period between reporting to operate a flight or series of flights and the on blocks time of the last sector operated.

Local Night: 8 hours within the period 22:00 to 08:00 local time.

5.3. Days Off

A singleton day off is defined as at least 36 hours and 2 local nights. Two consecutive days off must include 3 local nights.

5.3.1. 5453 ruleset

FTL days off restrictions will always be satisfied by the fixed pattern part of the 5453 ruleset, even when a day off has been violated by a delay on the last day of a block of late duties.

The rostering agreement specifies that 10 days off must be achieved in the 28 day reserve period, 3 of these being the final three days. A duty block may consist of a maximum of 5 FDPs, although a sixth is exceptionally permissable to return to home base following unforseen circumstances. A singleton day off may only be followed by a maximum 4 FDPs, then at least two days off. Two consecutive days off must be planned within any 10 consecutive days.

5.3.2. Other rulesets

Each ruleset has its own highly complex system for allocating days off, with little commonality between them. Consult FRMS A.10 for the gory details.

5.4. Required rest

From home base, the rest required before operating a duty is 12 hours or the length of the previous duty period, whichever is greater. When operating away from home base, EASA requires 10 hours plus total travelling time above one hour or the length of the previous duty, whichever is greater. If easyJet provides “Suitable Accomodation” at home base, the away from base limits apply. easyJet adds to this a “planning limit” of 12 hours rest away from home base.

EASA adds the concept of the “Recurrent Extended Recovery Rest Period,” henceforth RERRP, a rest period of 36 hours including 2 local nights that must occur with a maximum separation of 168 hours (7 days), and at least twice a month must include 2 local days, a local day being a 24 hour period starting at 00:00L.

EASA also adds “Time Zone Differences” as a factor in determining minimum rest. If an FDP involves a change of 4 hours or more, consult EOMA

5.4.1. Reducing required rest

The commander may, in response to unforeseen circumstances occuring at or after reporting time, at his discretion, reduce the minimum rest requirement such that at home base it is a minimum of 12 hours and out of base it is a minimum of 10 hours. At most 2 reduced rest periods can occur between two RERRPs. easyJet adds to this that when away from base, a minimum of 10 hours must be spent at the hotel. Any reduction must be deducted from the subsequent maximum FDP, and must be appended to the next minimum rest period.

An added EASA twist is that the commander can increase required rest without limit on behalf of all crew. More than 2 hours gets the duty pilot involved.

EASA introduces the concept of “Rostered Reduced Rest”. easyJet may, for “defined and specific pairings”, roster a reduction of required rest to a minimum of 12 hours at home base and 10 hours away from base, providing that the period 01:00L to 05:59L is included. The crew member must be notified at latest prior to undertaking the immediately preceding non reduced rest period. After roster publication, only one such reduced rest period may be rostered between two RERRPs.

5.5. Maximum Flight Duty

The maximum allowable flight duty for flight crew is governed by the country in which they are based, the number of sectors flown and the report time in local time. For Acclimatised[1] UK pilots:

Table 5.1. UK Flight Crew Maximum Flight Duty
 Sectors [a]
Local time1 or 234
05:00 - 05:5911:159:309:00
06:00 - 07:5913:0011:3010:45
08:00 - 12:5913:0012:3011:45
13:00 - 13:2913:0011:3010:45
13:30 - 13:5912:4511:3010:45
14:00 - 14:2912:3011:3010:45
14:30 - 14:5912:1511:3010:45
15:00 - 15:2912:0011:3010:45
15:30 - 15:5911:4511:1510:45
16:00 - 16:2911:3011:0010:30
16:30 - 16:5911:1510:4510:15
17:00 - 21:5911:0010:309:45
22:00 - 04:5911:009:309:00

[a] For 5 or more sectors, refer to the full table in FRMS Appendix I

Compared to UK flight crew, UK Cabin crew have the same limits for 1 and 2 sectors and less restrictive limits for 3 or more sectors. Crew based in Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain have the same limits as UK cabin crew. Crew based in France and Germany have more restrictive limits than UK flight crew for 1 and 2 sectors but less restrictive limits for 3 or more sectors. These tables are available in FRMS Appendix I.

5.5.1. Increasing maximum flight duty

The company may extend the maximum FDP by up to one hour in accordance with table 7.4 in EOMA This must be pre-planned and rest periods around the extended duty are increased, either by 4 hours post FDP or by 2 hours both pre and post FDP. This cannot be combined with split duty and may not occur more than once in 7 consecutive days.

The commander may, in the case of unforeseen circumstances occuring at or after reporting time, at his discretion, increase maximum flight duty by at most 2 hours. If unforeseen circumstances after take-off on the final sector result in an exceedance of this, the flight may continue to planned destination or alternate. If the flight is operating with extended FDP, the commander's discretion is applied to the relevant basic table rather than the extended table.

EASA also allows for the commander to reduce allowable flight duty period by an unlimited amount on behalf of all crew. More than 2 hours gets the duty pilot involved.

The company can attempt to increase maximum flight duty by contacting crew before they have left their place of rest and delaying the report time. Cabin crew may be contacted 2 hours before report, and flight crew, 90 minutes before report. When the delay is less than 4 hours, maximum FDP is based on the original reporting time but FDP starts from the delayed reporting time. If the delay is more than 4 hours, the maximum FDP is based on the more limiting of the original and delayed reporting times, and the FDP starts at the original reporting time plus 4 hours. A delay of more than 10 hours is considered a rest period. Further rules apply if a second delay notification is given, but this should only occur where a base has no crew facilities.

The company may also increase maximum FDP through the use of split duty. Where a crew has a break on the ground of between three and ten consecutive hours, 50% of the break may be added to the maximum FDP. The FDP continues throughout the break, and a number of caveats with regards to accommodation and post and pre-flight duties apply (see FRMS Appendix E). A split duty cannot follow reduced rest.

If cabin crew are required to report earlier than flight crew, the cabin crews’ maximum FDP is extended by the difference in report time, up to a maximum of one hour.

5.6. Consecutive night, early start and late finish duties

If any part of a duty falls within the period 02:00 to 04:59 local time (in the time zone that the crew member is Acclimatised), then it is a "night duty". Consecutive night duties are only allowed with the following restrictions:

  • Limited to a maximum of 4 sectors per duty.

  • If two consecutive night duties are scheduled, the preceding duty must finish by 23:59 local time.

  • If three consecutive night duties are scheduled, the preceding duty must finish by 21:00.

  • No more that three consecutive night duties can be scheduled.

EASA introduces the concept of “Disruptive Schedule”, and easyJet operates under the “late type”. This defines an “Early Start” Duty Period as one starting in the period 02:00L[2] to 06:59L, and a “Late Finish” as a duty period finishing between 00:00L and 01:59L. A “Disruptive Duty” is a duty where any part occurs between 01:00L and 06:59L. “Consecutive” duties are defined as separation of less than 34 hours between disruptive duties of a given type.

If crew perform 4 or more disruptive duties between 2 RERRPs, the second RERRP is futher extended to be 60 hours (2½ days).

4 or 5 consecutive Early Start duties are allowed provided:

  • 2 days off precede 4 consecutive Early Starts and 3 days off precede 5 consecutive Early Starts.

  • No more than 1 of the FDPs starts in the period 02:00 to 04:59, and this FDP is a maximum of 2 sectors.

  • 72 hours off follow.

Otherwise, a maximum of 3 consecutive disruptive duties are allowed, and a maximum of 4 disruptive duties are allowed in any 7 day period.

Groupings of 10 Early Start duties must be separated by at least 5 days free of such duties.

5.6.1. Ignoring consecutive night, early start and late finish duty limits

If an individual crew member has violated the 21:00 finish time before 3 consecutive night finishes by less than 3 hours, if he/she is “willing”, the published roster may continue. This does not appear to require use of commander's discretion.

Under EASA, there does not appear to be any specific authorisation for a commander to exercise discretion to allow violation of any of the consecutive disruptive duty limits. The closest to an authorisation is in FRMS Appendix B para 1, which allows the commander to “modify the limits on flight duty, duty and rest periods in the case of unforeseen circumstances in flight operations, which start at or after the reporting time.” The Appendix then goes into detail for other forms of commander's discretion, but notably omits consecutive disruptive duties.

5.7. Cumulative limits

Table 5.2, “Cumulative limits” shows the cumulative duty time and block time limitations applicable to flight crew operating under the 5453 ruleset and to cabin crew operating under the cabin crew default ruleset:

Table 5.2. Cumulative limits
 Flight CrewCabin Crew
PeriodDuty hoursBlock hoursDuty hoursBlock Hours
7 days55 [a] [b]  60 
14 days95 [c] [b]  110 
28 days190100190100
12 weeks480270525270
6 months 550 550
9 months 750 750
12 months18809002000900

[a] Can be increased to 60 hours where unforeseen delays occur on the day of operation.

[b] This limitation is in the Rostering and Crewing Agreement, amended 01/08/2008, which supersedes the limit in FRMS A.10.4.

[c] Can be increased to 100 hours where unforeseen delays occur on the day of operation.

Duty time spent on "contactable" does not count towards cumulative duty hours. Time spent on home standby counts in full except, when not called out, time spent on standby during the period 22:00 to 08:00 local time only counts half.[3] A strange hybrid standby where crew are pre-advised that at least three hours notice prior to report will be given is also possible, and time spent on such a standby only counts half towards cumulative duty limits.

5.7.1. Ignoring cumulative limits

The commander, at his discretion, may “exceptionally“ allow violation of any cumulative limit provided the exceedance was only apparent after the commencement of the affected FDP. The commander must have been aware of the exceedance — this discretion cannot be exercised retrospectively.

5.8. Standby

5.8.1. Home Standby

Maximum planned duration is 8 hours; a call out for a duty commencing beyond 8 hours is allowed. The assigned report time must be at least 90 minutes from call out. Crew will be given a maximum of 2 hours notice before report if called between 23:00L and 07:00L.

If called out, FDP is calculated from report time.[4] Maximum FDP must be reduced by the amount of home standby worked in excess of six hours. For home standby worked between 23:00L and 07:00L, only the time after contact from crewing counts as standby worked for the purposes of this rule. If called out for a split duty, for six hours, read eight hours.

Home standby does not count as duty for the purposes of calculating minimum rest requirement.[5] It counts towards cumulative duty limits as described in Section 5.7, “Cumulative limits”. It also counts as disruptive duty if it occurs in the bands described in Section 5.6, “Consecutive night, early start and late finish duties”.

5.8.2. Airport Standby

Maximum planned duration is 7 hours; a call out for a duty commencing beyond 7 hours is allowed. If called out, the FDP is calculated to start at notified report time, although maximum FDP must be reduced by any time spent on Airport Standby in excess of 4 hours and the maximum time from commencing Airport Standby to finishing the assigned FDP is 16 hours.

Time spent on airport standby counts in full towards cumulative duty limits and minimum rest requirements.

Accomodation that provides the crew member the possibility of sleep must be provided. Since easyJet crew rooms do not yet have such a facility, Airport Standby is not in use at this time.

5.8.3. Airport Duty

Maximum planned duration is 7 hours; a call out for a duty commencing beyond 7 hours is allowed. For the purposes of all limits, Airport Duty counts as a normal FDP, commencing at report.

5.8.4. Contactable

easyJet defines contactable as a period of no longer than one hour between 06:00 and 22:00 when a crew member will be available to receive a message. At least 10 hours notice will be given prior to any assigned duty. It does not count as duty for any purpose.

EASA uses the term “contactable” to refer to a new concept of “reserve”, where for 7 consecutive days you must be available to the company for a 16 hours period with an eight hour period specified in which you must sleep. EOMA 7.1.10 refers you to FRMS Appendix A, which refers you to the definition above, so hopefully easyJet is not intending to utilise EASA's reserve concept.

5.9. Transitions

For the purposes of transition control:

  • A “morning duty” (MD) is a duty with a report time between 00:00L and 09:29L which finishes before 17:59L.

  • An “evening duty” (ED) is a duty starting after 09:30L that finishes after 18:00L.

  • A “dual duty“ (DD) is a duty with a report time between 00:00L and 09:29L which finishes after 18:00L.

  • A “neutral duty” lies entirely within the period 09:30L to 17:59L

Only one transition is allowed per “duty block”. A “duty block”, in this case, is defined as a series of duties bookended by rest periods of 34 hours or greater that contain two local nights.

The latest off duty time following a MD-ED transition is 02:00L.

An ED-MD transition must include a rest period incorporating a local night.

A dual duty counts as a single transition (i.e. MD-DD-ED is not two transitions).

For UK pilots, the BALPA consolidated scheduling agreement (BCSA), dated 26th November 2014, adds further transition control:

  • Only one transition is allowed per calendar month.

  • Transitions are not allowed between day 4 and 5 of a duty block.

  • If a dual duty is occurs on day 4 of a duty block, only a neutral duty or a rest day may be scheduled for day 5.

  • No more than one ED is allowed in a late block.

Transitions due to disruption “on the day” are not considered a violation of these rules, but must be taken into account for future rostering.

5.10. Pre and post flight duties

For “normal” flight duty periods, a minimum of 1 hour must be planned for pre-flight duties, and a minimum of 30 minutes must be planned for post-flight duties. If post-flight duties exceed the standard allowance, crewing must be notified. For training and positioning refer to EOM-A

The practice of using non-standard reporting times to move a duty into a less limiting FDP band is prohibited.

The commander may, at his discretion, reduce these times. The company may not. At the very least, one member of flight crew must receive a briefing allowance of 45 minutes. A flight deck member or the cabin manager having received less than 30 minutes briefing allowance will always trigger an investigation.

5.11. Miscellaneous

5.11.1. Positioning

All time spent positioning counts as duty time for the purposes of all FTL limits. Time spent positioning prior to operating counts as FDP, but does not count as a sector.

5.11.2. 6 sector duties

No more than 3 consecutive 6 sector duties are allowed.

[1] Acclimatised means reporting in a place where the local time is no more than two hours different from local time at home base.

[2] EOMA defines “Early Start” as 05:00L to 06:59L, but FRMS Appendix A overrides this.

[3] This is an easyJet variation; under vanilla EASA only 25% of time spent on home standby contributes to duty time.

[4] Under the old scheme, the most restrictive max FDP of the standby start time and report time was generally used. I could find nothing similar under EASA, so I assume that it is simply report time that is used in the tables.

[5] If more than 12 hours is spent on home standby and no assignment is received, the minimum rest requirement is equal to the time spent on home standby. EASA actually allows home standby of 16 hours duration, hence this rule. easyJet at this time does not intend to have home standby of more than 8 hours, so this rule should not affect easyJet’s operation for the moment.