Ryanair accused over flight safety

Pilot writes book under pseudonym attacking low cost company for putting passengers in danger

4 June 2013

BUDGET airline Ryanair has been accused in a book by one of its pilots of putting passenger safety in danger in its extreme hunt to cut costs.

The book - Ryanair. Low cost mais à quel prix? / Ryanair – Low cost but at what price? – was written under the pseudonym of Christian Fletcher to protect the pilot from being sacked, says its publisher Altipresse.

It says Ryanair is flying too close to safety limits with crews permanently stressed and pilots sometimes getting just three or four hours’ sleep because of tight working rotas.

Today, Ryanair head of communication Robin Kiely said: “This matter is now subject of a criminal complaint and Ryanair will not be commenting further.”

Last month Kiely said it has a 29-year safety record and was hailed by Irish and Spanish safety authorities, who said: “Ryanair's safety is on a par with the safest airlines in Europe.”

In the book, Fletcher says that the mandatory 25-minute turnaround time increases the stress on all crew and they live in a permanent climate of fear, with tactics of intimidation and punishment.

He highlights the company’s obsession with cutting aviation fuel costs which means air-conditioning for passengers is cut to the bare minimum; braking on landing is deliberately hard to “get off the runway quickly and cut taxiing time” and the fuelling is reduced as much as possible.

On one flight, he says, the pilot diverted to Pisa from Genoa because of a thunderstorm but was berated by ground crew who wanted the plane to land at Bologna, despite the bad weather.

Altipresse says Fletcher is a Ryanair pilot with several thousand hours’ service on its Boeing 737-800 and has no family link with the famous Bounty officer of the same name, but is using it as a symbol of mutiny to highlight safety issues.

Last week Ryanair accused the Ryanair Pilot Group, which claims to represent the airline's pilots across Europe, of "telling lies" and "inventing bogus safety petitions" as it said Ryanair pilots face dismissal if they voice concerns over safety.

Publication of the book comes as Ryanair defends itself in a French court over charges that it broke employment law through its staff contracts.

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