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Sunday 24 February 2019

O'Leary's plan to wing it with one pilot 'a PR stunt'

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary during a press
conference at the Clarion Hotel in Limerick yesterday
Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary during a press conference at the Clarion Hotel in Limerick yesterday

Ciaran Byrne

EUROPEAN aviation officials last night dismissed Michael O'Leary's suggestion to fly Ryanair planes with just one pilot as a PR stunt .

Officials at the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Cologne, Germany, told the Irish Independent the body would not sanction commercial flights with solo pilots, an idea floated by Mr O'Leary.

After a storm of outrage among consumers and professional pilots, the EU's official air safety agency quashed suggestions of changes to safety laws to reassure passengers.

The EASA is the ultimate authority on aviation safety in Europe and Ryanair would need the agency to formally change safety rules to operate with just one pilot on board.

EASA spokesman Dominique Fouda told the Irish Independent the agency would not be considering changes to its strict safety regime.


It confirmed it had received no correspondence from Ryanair after Mr O'Leary said he was writing to officials for permission to use only one pilot per flight because he believes co-pilots are unnecessary.

He also claimed flight attendants could perform some of the duties of a regular co-pilot.

But Mr Fouda added: "It is excellent public relations for Mr O'Leary but we have not been notified by Ryanair of any such request.

"The regulations are for two qualified pilots to be on board. Therefore his suggestion to alter the regulations cannot be applied and we foresee no change in that.

"It is a safety issue that requires the aircraft to have two pilots and that is not changing," added Mr Fouda.

Mr O'Leary's latest suggestion comes after he proposed forcing passengers to stand on flights, as well as charging them €1 to use the onboard toilets.

However, the EASA said Mr O'Leary would not need its permission to charge customers €1 for using the toilets. That decision can be made by the Irish Aviation Authority.

Irish pilots have accused Mr O'Leary of endangering the safety of passengers with a call to do away with the second pilot on the flight deck.

A spokesman for the Irish Aviation Authority said yesterday that the two-pilot rule would stay.

The idea has also been dismissed by the British Airline Pilots' Association as "unwise and unsafe". The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that the EASA would have to sanction any such changes.

Meanwhile Ryanair has won a court case against the Spanish 'screen scraping' website Atrapalo, but has been ordered to stop using the term 'bastards' to describe the company.

The Constitutional Court in Barcelona ruled that the airline was entitled, under Spanish law, to distribute its air fares exclusively on it own website. .

Irish Independent

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