O’Leary praises Ryanair safety amid Irish Aviation Authority probe
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has defended the company’s safety procedures, speaking days before the Irish Aviation Authority opened an investigation into reports that two passengers were allowed access to the cockpit of a Ryanair flight.
“We are proud of the safety features we operate here at Ryanair,” he said during an interview with RTE Radio 1’s Countrywide.
Read More: Irish Aviation Authority launches investigation after passengers enter cockpit of Ryanair flight
Due to be aired tomorrow morning, Mr O’Leary told RTE presenter Damien O’Reilly that Ryanair had often led the way when it came to airline safety, saying that many of its practices had been adopted by other airlines.
Asked about the Germanwings crash from last month, he said Ryanair had been “one of the few airlines to require two people to always be in the cockpit at all times.”
“If a pilot needs to take a toilet break, one of the cabin crew must take their place. It always seemed to be a sensible policy... especially given the post-911 security changes,” he said.
Read More: Ryanair planes clip wings at airport in second incident within six months
It has been claimed that Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who is thought to have deliberately crashed the passenger flight into the Alps killing 150 people, may have spiked the captain's coffee to get him out of the cockpit.
“All you can do in these cases is to offer your thoughts, prays, and sympathies to the families of the passengers and crew, as well as to our colleagues at Germanwings,” Mr O’Leary added.
“We might be competitors but we all spend every waking minute of every day to ensure that people fly safely.”
Read More: Co-pilot Lubitz may have spiked captain's coffee before crash - claim
Mr O’Leary’s interview was recorded last week, and does not touch on reports that the IAA is investigating an incident where two passengers were allowed access to the cockpit of a Ryanair flight.
The incident came to light after an Irish passenger told Independent.ie how the two women were permitted access to the cockpit of a plane bound for Germany last Friday.
“The plane had taken off and we saw them coming out of the cockpit when we were in the air,” she said.
“They couldn’t have been in the toilets. The air hostesses check the toilets when you’re ascending and they have to make sure everything is locked.
“Later, when the captain said ‘we’re getting ready to descend’, the two girls went back up. They were laughing and giggling and taking photos of each other,” she added.
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A Ryanair spokesperson told Independent.ie that the airline has already carried out an investigation into the incident, with Robin Kiely, head of communications at Ryanair, saying the company considered “the matter closed”.
"These were three Ryanair employees travelling off duty," he said.
"All three were wearing their Ryanair ID and were known to the flight crew."
Yesterday, the airline refused to comment on its policy for passengers, including off-duty staff, being in the cockpit.