Ryanair CEO Calls For The Elimination of Co-Pilots To Save Money

We have followed the dubious work of Michael O’Leary, chief executive officer of Ryanair as he has struggled to make aircraft into human cattle cars and to charge from every possible convenience like use of a toilet. Demonstrating that he has even less regard for safety than he does comfort, O’Leary is calling for the elimination of co-pilots — suggesting that flight attendants could be trained to land planes where a pilot dies or becomes incapacitated.

O’Leary insisted “Really, you only need one pilot . . . Let’s take out the second pilot. Let the bloody computer fly it.” To assure those people willing to trust him with their lives, O’Leary that “[i]f the pilot has an emergency, he rings the bell, he calls her in. She could take over.”

There appear plenty of people who are willing to be treated like cattle or fly on a cut-rate airline where co-pilots are treated like luxuries. Ryanair now has 7,000 employees, flying 1,100 routes to 155 airports in 26 countries.

Source: Business Week

27 thoughts on “Ryanair CEO Calls For The Elimination of Co-Pilots To Save Money”

  1. I have said this before, but shall repeat myself…I will never ever fly Ryan Air…any man so cheap as to charge his flight attendants for a cup of tea, is is not the man I will give money to under any circumstances…but “he is a great fella all the same eh”…

  2. why not teach the air marshals to land the plane. airline companies don’t pay them anyway.

  3. AY,

    White horse time?

    Don’t fret, my sarcasm gets misunderstood all the time … it’s a curse … our minds run down a strange pathway … not everybody can keep up (now, was that last phrase sarcasm or not? … it would not be if I added … or wants to) but, hell … why make it easy!

  4. I apologize for not stating up front that it was meant as sarcasm. I presumed that the statement about he does have the shareholders to worry about, should have been the tip as well as a crash just being a calculated risk…..

    I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. On the police tase man thread, I stated that it was meant as sarcasm and got ruffled because of that. Man I am gonna take a nap and see if I land back in OZ the flying monkeys are getting to e….

  5. Michael O’Leary, when he flies is probably in his own private jet that coincidentally has a full flight crew. However of course he is in the Executive class and therefore deserves better service than the rest of us peasants. Feudalism: Our new political paradigm.

  6. Also, tom, when I think of AY’s comments, this thread or others, I have yet to think “misinformed” or “drivel”.

    Thats just me.

  7. @Tomdarch:

    AY’s comments are meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek. Most folks get it. I guess you forgot to turn the “no humor/sarcasm” light off and return your funny bone to the upright position before decent in Turley blawg.


    This whole proposition by O’leary seems like something the “Yes Men” would propose just to see how many cold-blooded corporate shills would go along with it.

    Very surreal.

  8. Anonymously Yours 1, September 7, 2010 at 9:13 am

    As I have stated before, the only need for a pilot in a commercial plane is….for emergency’s…such as turbulence, birds, short run ways and difficult landings because of traffic and the nature of it being a machine.


    It’s fine when a member of the general public spouts this kind of totally mis-informed drivel. But it’s a serious problem to learn that O’Leary knows so little about how aircraft actually work and the history of how we got to where we are today – that scheduled commercial aviation is essentially the safest mode of transportation.

    Also, think about this from a business point of view. How much would it save per ticket to scrap the First Officer from a flight, but increase the pay and training costs for the cabin crew to have them certified to fly commercial aircraft? On regional and low-cost carriers, pilots are often not paid much more than the cabin crew. Some regional/commuter pilots are paid less than US$30k per year (remember the pilot who was working at a coffee shop to make ends meet?)

    If O’Leary is saying something this stupid in public, what is going on “behind the scenes” with air crew training and aircraft maintenance? These are critical components of safety, but occur out of sight of the public and are widely ignored, until there’s a crash or other accident.

    On the point of “damaging the brand,” if there is a Ryan accident with fatalities, this idiot’s talk of cutting critical safety elements (eliminating the First Officer on flights) is just going to cause that much more scrutiny and public backlash.

    If O’Leary’s (or AY’s) statements don’t seem preposterous to you, then get over to Salon dot com, and read Patrick Smith’s “Ask the Pilot” column. He’s a working airline pilot, currently flying international routes, but has flown commuter and freight also. He has had to devote column after column to dispelling this absurd “the computer flies the plane,” “you don’t need pilots” silliness.

  9. I see this as the perfect slot for Jet Blue’s former flight attendant Stephen Slater, who says he still wants to be a flight attendant.

    We know he can handle passenger abuse well (which will now probably come in handy with this particular airline) and he knows how to operate the emergency chute exit.

    Sounds like a match made in heaven to me.

  10. Coming soon to Ryanair!

    Optional pressurized cabins!

    Michael O’Leary is a perfect example of greed run amok.

  11. According to “The Strad” magazine, August, 2010, Ryanair has the worst reputation among classical musicians, who are obliged to buy a second ticket for their instruments. While this is standard practice for cellos, I had never heard of an airline that required this of violists and violinists — and you have to use the seat-belt on the case, too, which does not work at all; I have never seen a violin case (for one instrument, not a double) that would not fit in an overhead bin. This airline should change its name to “Raw-in-air.” The CEO is greedy AND stupid.

  12. One more thought. Most airline aircraft are not designed for single-pilot operation. Some are so complex a third crew member is required: the flight engineer. In the twin engine airplane I used to own, I was never very comfortable with single pilot instrument flying and often asked an instrument rated friend to ride shotgun with me to help with the work load.

    With this level of genius at the helm, what could possibly go wrong? On second thought, this gives me an additional reason to avoid Ryanair in the future.

  13. I am a pilot. A friend gave me a coffee cup with a saying on it. On one side it says, “Flying is the second greatest thrill known.”

    The other side says, “Landing is the first.”

    Of all the operations in flying, landing is the most critical. I can just see a flight attendant trying to get a multi-engine aircraft down thorough a busy Class A or B airspace, on instruments, in bad weather, with a dead or disabled pilot in the left seat. Hardly a task for the faint of heart, or the marginally trained. Add a little icing and navigating through a mountain pass to make it more “interesting.”

    I wonder what his insurance carrier has to say about this bright idea?

  14. As I have stated before, the only need for a pilot in a commercial plane is….for emergency’s…such as turbulence, birds, short run ways and difficult landings because of traffic and the nature of it being a machine.

    The dream machines can be run from many points in the world…in the US Atlanta and someplace in Colorado…

    So….maybe Ryanair might have an arguable argument to the FAA equivalent in the UK…..He does have the shareholders to watch out after all….a plane in flight is just a crash waiting, which is just a calculated risk after all…..

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