Friday, 17 August 2012

Is Ryan Air's cost-cutting dangerous?

Six emergency landings to be investigated by Spanish air authority
VALENCIA The Irish low-cost carrier is notorious among the flying public for floating such ideas as standing-room only flights, or having to pay to use the toilet. It is also one of the of the world's top airlines because it offers excellent prices for most of its routes. This is achieved through strict cost-cutting measures, one of which has recently lead to the airline fueling policy. Earlier this week, three of the company's flights had to be diverted from Madrid Barajas to Valencia because of an electric storm. While they were queuing to land, one of them sent out a 'mayday' message that allowed it to be pushed to the front for a priority touch down - the other two flights did the same shortly afterwards. The reason for the emergency was given as that the planes did not have a drop more fuel to make it safely to the ground. A spokesperson for Ryan air>>>explained that only the absolute minimum of fuel required to cover each journey is placed in the tank - not a drop more. In other words, there is no room for emergencies such as those at Valencia.>>>
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This was not the first time this has happened this summer. Only a few weeks ago, there were reports in the Spanish media of another three flights in similar circumstances, a fact confirmed by the airline spokesperson.

Apparently, company pilots are under strict instructions to load only the absolutely necessary amount of fuel to complete the scheduled journey, a policy that does not allow for frequent natural emergencies such as storms or landing difficuilties. Should the pilot load more fuel than allowed, a written justification is required.

To quote one press report:
According to the captain of Ryanair's base at Stansted - number two on the management team - Shane McKeon: "There are still a small number of pilots who seem to have a problem with company policy."

"Some of the explanations give by pilots for filling up with excessive fuel are unacceptable," stated McKeon.

"The most unreasonable excuse of all is that they like to land with three tonnes of fuel. This is not Ryanair's company policy; it is totally unacceptable and it is not what they are paid to do," concludes McKeon.

It does not require a pilot's licence to conclude that this would appear to be a very dangerous policy. Common sense indicates quite clearly that in cases of emergency, not having enough fuel to divert from the scheduled flight path, is foolhardy, to say the list.

There are so many cases when a flight might have to be diverted, and not only for natural causes. What happens with mechanical failure? Illness on board? Overlong queueing? Any unforeseen circumstance, in fact.

The Spanish authorities are investigating the circumstances of the six flights desscribed above. It is in the power of the authorities to stop Ryan Air from flying over Spanish territory with minimum fuel allowance, but experience tells us that this ultimate weapon is unlikely to be deployed as the airline brings vast amounts of tourist to these beleaguered shores - not to mention that tax revenue from airplanes refuelling here comes in very handy these days.

If any measures are to be taken let us hope they are in place before a tragedy occurs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ill-informed I'm afraid. All aircraft are required to have contingency fuel (around 2.5 tonnes of fuel) to cover a diversion to another airfield and 30 mins of holding time once over the diverted to airport "Common sense indicates quite clearly that in cases of emergency" an aircraft will always have enough fuel to divert to an alternate airfield and arrive there with 30 mins worth of fuel left on top.