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Ryanair Fires Pilot After TV Show Probes Safety Culture

Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA) dismissed Captain John Goss and said it plans to pursue legal action against the pilot after he was featured on a U.K. television program this week that questioned the airline’s safety.

“We will not allow a Ryanair employee to defame our safety on national television,” the airline said in an e-mailed statement. Goss confirmed in writing on July 10 and Aug. 13 that he had “no concerns” about the Dublin-based carrier’s safety, Ryanair said.

Pilots are wary of raising concerns and are encouraged to carry as little fuel as possible, the Channel 4 “Dispatches” program reported, citing a survey conducted by the Ryanair Pilots Group, which claims to represent more than half of the carrier’s pilots. The fuel issue arose when three jets declared emergencies before touching down in Valencia, Spain, after diversions from Madrid last year. The planes landed safely and in compliance with European regulations, the Irish Aviation Authority said.

Goss was one of five pilots elected to the pilots’ group interim council in June. During his 26 years at Ryanair he acted as a flight safety officer and his record was “blemish free,” the RPG said in an e-mailed statement.

Non-Punitive

“The immediate reaction of Ryanair to safety issues brought to their attention is to deny the existence of any problems and to effectively shoot the messenger,” RPG Chairman Evert van Zwol said in the statement. “Safety experts are agreed that a sound safety culture is based on pilots having faith in a non-punitive approach and dealing directly and transparently with all concerns raised.”

Ryanair encourages crews to fly with additional kerosene if the captain wishes to do so and the majority of its pilots carry more than the required amount daily, Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said in an Aug. 13 interview. Fuel emergencies, declared when pilots come close to having 30 minutes of fuel left on landing, “while rare, are not unusual” in the airline industry, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kari Lundgren in London at klundgren2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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