View Full Version : Flight Intl. raises qs. about IAA and Ryanair

27th Jan 2006, 12:01
Flight International: 24/01/06

Only human

Low-cost carriers have created an operating model that is changing the way short haul works. But it has never been critically examined.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has the task of overseeing an air transport phenomenon that is unlike anything else. It is also a phenomenon that is changing the face of short- and medium-haul scheduled commercial operations. No prizes for guessing that the subject is Ryanair.

It is the fact that Ryanair has gone back to the drawing board with the model of how airlines should operate that the travelling public has incomparably low scheduled fares, and the airline makes a healthy profit from doing so. Significantly, in its 20 years of operation Ryanair has suffered no accidents.

Ryanair cannot be compared with its original role model, Southwest Airlines: Southwest is culturally all-American and logistically all-domestic. Ryanair is Irish-registered, but has hubs all over Europe and employees of most European Union nationalities, cultures and mother tongues. Its headquarters and one of its operating units is based in Ireland, but Dublin is not the group’s largest hub. It may be domestic in the EU sense, but that is much more complex than being all-American.

Add to this the fact that Ryanair is a fast-growing, very large airline and the only comparable carrier anywhere is EasyJet.

Meanwhile, the influence of the likes of Ryanair and EasyJet in Europe and Southwest in the USA has been considerable. They are role models for numerous burgeoning operations working the same basic example, and they are forcing the traditional scheduled carriers to imitate – while maintaining a semblance of product differentiation – the type of short-haul operation they run.

These new carriers are subject to exactly the same kind of safety and economic oversight as their “legacy carrier” peers. That is as it should be, but there is an issue here. The operating model that is changing the short-haul world has never been subjected to academic scrutiny or a total audit, even though the type of operation is so different. So why should it be subjected to study? Low-cost carrier operating cycles have the same components as those of any other airline, but faster if possible. No nonsense at any stage, and turnarounds like a formula one pitstop.

Great stuff. But different, and no-one seems to have asked whether this difference is worthy of scrutiny in its own right. The IAA flies route checks with Ryanair, looks over its operating manuals and practices and is satisfied – even impressed – by what it sees. That is still not the same as checking out an unfamiliar operating model as a whole. The traditional airlines are the devils the aviation authorities know, but now the agencies are using a traditional template to measure a revolutionary model. And the traditional carriers are moving to the low-cost operating model, not the other way around.

There is no suggestion here that the basic low-cost model needs to change, but the oversight methods and mindset needs to be brought up to date.

Why now, and why Ryanair? There are several reasons: Ryanair is now a mature operation that has worked out how it does things, so it is a stable business model – a fixed rather than a moving target. And all the vibes coming from the big low-cost carriers indicate that the target for an operating review should be human-factors centred rather than the traditional checks on manuals and adherence to standard operating procedures. Human factors are more difficult to check, to measure, and more difficult to prove, but most accidents are caused by human factors.

In the last year Ryanair aircraft faced two anomalous approaches that came close to ending in tears. In one of them the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit ventured that the pilot flying’s out-of-character conduct was the result of stresses outside – but related to – the workplace: in the other, an internal investigation by Ryanair concluded that a bereavement had affected the captain’s capacity. Meanwhile a Ryanair pilot’s demotion after refusing to fly extra sectors at the end of his rostered duty day is being examined in the courts. Safety experts always talk of the iceberg model for incidents and accidents: the accidents are the tip, the incidents are the bulk of the iceberg and the indicators that it is time to look for trends.

The bereavement-related incident is to be investigated by the Italian ANSV. Now the IAA should lead the world by commissioning an academic study of the human factors of low- cost operations.

Flight International: 24/01/06

Ryanair lapse sparks safety spat

Airline’s failure to send 737 incident report to Irish authorities delays Italian investigation by four months.

The Italian authorities are launching an investigation into a series of flawed approaches flown into Rome by the crew of a Ryanair Boeing 737-800. The controversial incident has prompted the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA) to question whether Ireland has an adequate safety oversight system in place.

Italian air accident investigation agency ANSV’s decision to investigate comes four months after the 7 September 2005 incident because, it claims, it has only just been handed details by the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU). Read the précis here.

Ryanair’s internal report on the Rome Ciampino airport-bound 737 – the only investigation carried out so far – refers to the crew’s “almost complete loss of situational awareness, both lateral and vertical”, while attempting a diversion to Rome Fiumicino because of storms at Ciampino, ascribing this to high workload in turbulent weather and failure to follow standard operating procedures.

The airline informed the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and the AAIU that the event had occurred, but Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary admits that the carrier “screwed up” by failing to send them the final draft of its report.
The report says that, when the captain repeatedly failed to capture the instrument landing system on approach to Fiumicino, the co-pilot became concerned. “The first officer repeatedly prompted the captain to ensure he was not suffering some form of partial incapacitation, and when he realised that the aircraft was now in a potentially unsafe situation he urged the aircraft [sic] to perform a go-around, pulled back on the control column and advanced the thrust levers, but he did not assume control from the captain,” it says.

The captain had suffered the death of his young son a few days before the Düsseldorf-Ciampino flight, but had gone back on duty without notifying flight operations. Since then, says the report, existing instructions in the operations manual “for anyone who finds themselves in this situation” have been clarified.

The AAIU has previously reported that on 21 July last year a Ryanair crew carried out “an irrational and inexplicable” steep approach to land at Stockholm Skavsta airport, touching down at 180kt (330km/h) in the wrong configuration (Flight International, 11-17 October 2005). The agency attributed the pilot’s behaviour to stress related to family concerns.

Capt Evan Cullen, head of IALPA, says of the Ryanair Ciampino flight report: “There has been an excessive tendency to criticise the pilots without attempting to understand the situation. The report quotes no information from the flight data recorder [FDR].” O’Leary says the pilots had not “pulled” the data from the FDR at the time, and the report uses information from the aircraft’s operational flight data monitoring unit.

Cullen says: “While not commenting on any particular incident or airline, there is no doubt that the safety margins in Irish aviation have been eroded. The important question is whether we have in place the regulatory oversight system to alert us when the safety margin has been eroded to an unsafe extent.”

The IAA says it “routinely audits Ryanair’s line operations from the flightdeck and training standards, and follows up and investigates reported incidents in a systematic manner”.


27th Jan 2006, 13:08
Prasifka new Competition Authority Chairman


27th Jan 2006, 14:44
What Mr. Learmount effectively says is that things do not happen in a vacuum. Maybe, finally, the IAA et al will examine the less-than-tangible factors and/or pressures facing the pilots who operate within the part of the industry that apparently is under the most commercial pressure.

Our good friend, Capt. Hairy-Camel (how many hours do you have left?), has already said that the "premise of universal and omnipotent oversight in such a pan European operation is ludicrous, frankly."

What an odd opinion from a fellow professional! It is precisely within operations with less than universal (rather than omnipotent) oversight, where less than scrupulous persons can extract extra pressure on individuals because the oversight is lacking. How could a professional pilot not wish to strive to achieve the highest level of oversight?

The Rome, Skavsta and Beauvais incidents have been discussed elsewhere. What the AAIU said in 2004 was: "The modern day commercial aviation concept of repetitive short sector flights with rapid turnarounds, coupled with the commercial pressures associated with ground handling at high activity airports makes for a continued high pressure environment for the flight crews."
What the AAIU did NOT say is that the operators should primarily establish a situation where the pressures listed within the above quote should ever impact on any flight crew such that the operation is degraded to a potentially dangerous level.

The IAA not only regulates licence-holders, but the operators. The IAA has a responsibility to licence-holders to adequately regulate the operators to prevent cultures establishing in any operation which could compromise safety. Unfortunately the IAA is silent in the latter regard.

After all, if the Ryanair operation is as we are led to believe, won't a comprehensive academic study of all factors (including human) of low-cost operations prove the point for Leo?

27th Jan 2006, 19:14
Prasifka new Competition Authority Chairman Didn't he and MOL have some kind of an open conflict several months ago?? :\

27th Jan 2006, 20:26
firstly i'm no fan of David Learmount however this article is indeed well thought out and deserves consideration. The fact that Ryan air is mentioned is acedemic as this behavior is starting to become more comon in the low cost sector and I believe that it will get much worse before it gets better.The ryan air incidents are only the tip of the ice berg as some one has already said. Ryan Air and easyjet can at least afford to spend money on saftey but this ability is being squeezed every day by fly by night operators poping up all over the place. The next problem that is facing us is the corperate greed culture which is becoming more of an epidemic than "Bird flu".

Middle management types are being blinded by the potential of ludicrusly high bonus's to keep the operation cost effective whilst the commercial people are constantly lowering the prices to be competative against the "start-up of the week carrier". the frightening thing is that if the largest and most profitable loco's are starting to fail what chance do the bottom feeders have!

As far as the IAA goes I do not believe they have the resources to police a pan european carrier the size of Ryan air today, and quite frankly Spain and some of the new Eastern block Authorities have even less chance. In short its begining to get very scary in European skys these days.

Traffic is increasing at an alarming rate whilst the infastructure and support systems are crumbling around us!!

28th Jan 2006, 08:25
The real subject in question should be the attitude of the IAA and Ryanair.

David L says that the IAA are "satisfied - even impressed" by the Ryanair operation. That is NOT the impression I got when I last spoke to the IAA about Ryanair (no - I am not a jounalist).
I raised particular safety points with the IAA, for instance, inadequate cabin briefings, incorrect safety cards for the type of aircraft, missing seat belts, seats that would not lock in the upright position etc. That, plus the Stansted fire incident certaihly should not give any cause for satisfaction within the IAA and indeed I was told that Ryanair are subjected to far more checks than, "average" - which in itself tells a story.
When we read about other instances concerning the flight crew, then I am certainly not satisfied with the operation of Ryanair, however now as a passenger, I have the choice of carrier.

28th Jan 2006, 09:10
classjazz the issue with the IAA is not about "talking the talk" but is rather about "walking the walk". As for the latter the jury is definitely pondering long and hard.

Doug the Head
28th Jan 2006, 10:01
The IAA not only regulates licence-holders, but the operators. The IAA has a responsibility to licence-holders to adequately regulate the operators to prevent cultures establishing in any operation which could compromise safety. Unfortunately the IAA is silent in the latter regard. Unfortunately the CAA does not do much either. It´s like a deer staring into the headlights on a rapidly appraching car. Frozen!

Pushing things/people to their stuctural/physical limits on a continuous basis can NOT be safe/healthy in the long term! Obviously doing a reduced thrust take off is more important to some airlines than wearing out their flight crews. After all, replacing an engine is expensive, whereas a pilot can be easily replaced by TRSS or a DE captain! :yuk:

28th Jan 2006, 10:14
Quite frankly I think "discretion" should be done away with so that the option is no longer available.

28th Jan 2006, 11:29
now that's the best idea i've heard in years!:)

Non Normal
29th Jan 2006, 00:05
I don't even know why they call it "discretion" at times. It's hardly discretionary if you are doing it under duress (as in many cases).

It's probably about time it's properly recognised by the authorities that the current FTL schemes aren't exactly working to minimise fatigue, and something is done about it.

29th Jan 2006, 01:23
Doug, may I say, thank you, I haven't been called a spotty teenager in about 30 years. In my experiance crews generally tell you why they won't go into discretion without being asked. There is, and has never been pressure or demand to discress from Ops, you don't want to, fine. The part where you state " Pushing things/people to their stuctural/physical limits on a continuous basis can NOT be safe/healthy"
Ops doesn't make the Schedule, we, like you, have to work within it, with your help, and you, I hope with ours. You are more than welcome to come into ops anytime you like and see how we work and approach problems.
Finally, let me say, the right to exercise Discretion is the commanders, not mine or my spotty co workers here in orangeland, and as far as I am aware everybody in here knows that, if you know different I would be interested to hear.

29th Jan 2006, 09:49
I think the spotty teenager remark is out of order. I have many criticisms of the easyJet terms and conditions but have to say that I have never felt pressure from anyone in operations or crewing to use my discretion.

Doug the Head
29th Jan 2006, 10:32

Sorry, perhaps my remark as a bit too harsch. I know that you guys/gals don´t do the planning, but my point simply was that these LoCo airlines plan everything so tightly (looks good on paper and therefore good for the manager´s share options :yuk: ) and then let the flight crews and NMC sort out the mess on a day to day basis.

I think that the point of this thread is the fragmentation of the various European Aviation Agencies, the multiple cultural aspects involved and the impact of the LoCo model on aviation safety.

Unfortunately JAR-OPS/FCL failed to create a level playing field across Europe and many LoCo airlines are exploiting this weakness.

30th Jan 2006, 06:49
For the record, I thought that the Flight Editorial was excellent. Reasoned, careful and on target, what more can one ask for? It points a finger where the finger needs to be pointed and asks the correct questions.

I was expecting a more widespread reaction than we have seen, especially considering the numbers of contributors to the many Ryanair threads we have seen in recent years. Wrong again. Maybe it was too long for people to read! Or is it just that everyone felt it was so good that there is nothing more to say?

Wig Wag
30th Jan 2006, 07:50
I think David Learmount has been working towards the coal face of this problem for a few years. He's getting pretty close to understanding some of the problems pilots face. It's difficult for an outsider to fully empathise with the pilot and his problems.

He needs to work closely on the best form of words to get the problem into the public eye.

I shall watch with interest where the story goes from here.

30th Jan 2006, 07:51
David Learmount has written a sensible reasoned article which merely questions whether the current safety oversight system which has generally served European Aviation (at least in norhtern Europe) fairly well over the years, is in need of overhaul in the current climate.

Numerous people including IALPA have questioned the IAA's apparent lack of backbone in critically examining Ryanair's operation in the past few years. In fact the most recent one is the best example of just how poor it actually is. (in passing, the UK CAA is probably no better).

Certainly both Easyjet and Ryanair have changed the face of European aviation forever with Ryanair at the front in this regard. This has brought enormous benefits to the travelling public and ahs generated big profits for both carriers. For sure the professionals, crews, ops staff and regulators are aware of increased pressures in keeping to very tight schedules with minimal crews and maximum utilisation in order to keep costs down. These pressures impinge on everyone and unless we first of all acknowledge that they exist then there is little prospect of there being any adequate response from the regulators.

We hear true stories of a Ryanair Captain being demoted for refusing to operate extra sectors (not for not going into discretion) and others of Captains from the same company dojng very strange things in the aircraft, apparently with at least the tacit agreement of the F/O. Taking both situations together, there is at least a grain of evidence that there might be a problem.

Add to that, multiple bases, various nationalities (many of the cabin crew have little or only basic English), varying cultural issues and you have a mix that at least requires some degree of attention from the regulators. EASA cannot stand idly by until there actually IS an accident before acting to examine this matter. If they find that all is fine, then at least they will have done their statutory duty. If they stand back and do nothing just watch the writs fly when the inevitable occurs.

A Captain friend in Ryanair tells me that the Chief Pilot now spends most of his time going from base to base on SOP talks. While this is commendable in itself it shows that either

a) Ryanair is very pro-active in dealing with their multi-cultural, multi-base mix or

b) he's concerned about standards and is trying keep a lid on things.

From everything one hears about this company I somehow doubt that it's the former. Only one person in Ryanair ever makes any real decisions and it isn't the Chief Pilot nor is it the current 'Accountable' Manager. How can the IAA accept as "Accountable" a Manager who doesn't call the shots?

Flight is to be commended for the article. Funny how quiet LHC is now! But he'll be back soon I'll bet with a 'reasoned' diatribe on why pan-European safety oversight is neither required nor appropriate (for Ryanair of course).

Leo Hairy-Camel
31st Jan 2006, 01:54
A Captain friend in Ryanair tells me that the Chief Pilot now spends most of his time going from base to base on SOP talks.
While this is commendable in itself it shows that either
a) Ryanair is very pro-active in dealing with their multi-cultural, multi-base mix or
b) he's concerned about standards and is trying keep a lid on things.
...or c) You have no bloody idea what you're talking about.
It points a finger where the finger needs to be pointed and asks the correct questions.
No it doesn't. Minuteman....and 49 hours, 27 minutes to answer your question). You'll be hearing from me properly in a day or so.

31st Jan 2006, 11:32
Leo Hairy Camel (correctly) quotes me as saying:It [the Flight Editorial] points a finger where the finger needs to be pointed and asks the correct questions. and then goes on to reply to minuteman (in somewhat menacing terms). Either he thinks we (minuteman and myself) are one and the same person, or he is confused. (As I recall it, Leo has also said that minuteman is the President of IALPA - but I may have got that wrong).

All of this is fascinating for a "line pilot". Minuteman is going to hear from Leo in the very near future ..... I hope we will all be told - by one of them at least - exactly what ensues.

31st Jan 2006, 20:58
I have had a lot of discussions on how to evaluate an oversight system.

I have come to the conclusion that there are too many parameters that need to be controlled, in a free-market economy, where the rules are set by local politics and were a dysfunctional court system is the only watchdog.

Fixing one parameter might crystallize the other two to a certain degree.

A minimum amount of funds should be fixed and clearly visible in the balance sheets“as dictated by law “for those issues that have strictly to do with operation, training and maintenance. The same amount for every Airline in Europe taken into account the magnitude of it’s operations.

In other words; certain safety related issues urgently need to be protected from the relentless market forces.

This needs to be done at European level and every JAA member CAA should be granted the authority for cross border checking.

Non European Airlines that fly into Europe or even across should comply with European duty time restrictions on those sectors.

To expedite this process I suggest that JAA accepts the FAR rules and get on with it.

31st Jan 2006, 21:50
The problems of effective regulation are not new nor confined to the aviation industry, in fact they are well understood and have been studied for decades as part of economics courses.

The key issue is what is called "regulatory capture" whereby the relationship between the regulator and those regulated ceases to be at arms length. The problem typically starts with staff of the regulator and the regulated having a common background (eg. ex airforce), it rapidly worsens if staff move from regulated entity to regulator, it blossoms fully when those regulated start providing a bit of "corporate hospitality" at Board level and above.

I have heard criticism of the Australian regulator, CASA, being called "the group captains club", and of course the Australian Treasury is terribly kind to the big banks here, because where else is a bright Treasury economist going to make their first million?

If the relationship isn't strictly arms length, then you will ALWAYS have problems in relation to effective supervision.

Then of course there is the overriding issue of the possibility of conflict between a beautiful set of SOP's and operations manuals and the actual corporate culture that I have alluded to before.

Gigginstown ERC
2nd Feb 2006, 08:55
Quarterly results due out so the Camel is busy.

Share price needs to be bolstered, despite ABN, Citigroup and Merrion all recommending investors to "reduce".

As the prince asked:

"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them"

The Camel will return, once he gets out of the newsagent's queue for his latest copy of Village magazine, the latest issue has a French flavour to it.

Leo, don't disappoint your loyal subjects, and go easy on the Con-man when you read the article.

Leo Hairy-Camel
2nd Feb 2006, 09:35
I see the Dwarf has wheeled out the heavy artillery of erudition, this time, and enlisted the services of Reed Business Information’s self anointed oracle on all maters aeronautical in the latest innings of their evidently favourite pastime, Join the Dots and whack Ryanair.

Firstly, in terms of spirit, I fully agree. Human Factors is the key issue in aviation flight safety today, and its only right that we, all of us in the industry, embrace any attempts to improve flight safety at the HF level, with hearty enthusiasm. But what sort of assessment should we embrace, how will it be objectively measured and, crucially, how will improvements be implemented and by whom? These are questions that should be playing on the collective mind of all industry leaders, not just limited to LCC’s. It should be industry wide. However, Learmount’s argument, though beautifully crafted, is fundamentally flawed in two areas.
And all the vibes coming from the big low-cost carriers
The Vibes? Good God. Shagadelic, baby. One wonder’s at what other lengths he goes to in order to get the vibes. Ear to the railway track? Oija Board? Tossing the runes perhaps? Couldn’t be that the Dwarf has found your ear, by any chance? I'd check for pods pubis if he got too close, Davey boy.

Why has Ryanair invited all this attention all of a sudden? Certainly we’re the biggest and the best. We do it better, faster and cheaper than any of our so-called competitors, and will continue to do so, so long as our rigid commitment to flight safety is maintained and customers continue to vote in their droves with credit card details. From a personal perspective, I derive a great deal of professional satisfaction from working for a kick-ass, wildly successful company, and I’m certainly not alone there. No, its not the high profile, its not the personality and demeanour of our ‘colourful’ CEO, neither is it the ongoing legal wrangling at our Dublin base where a group of long time employees have permitted themselves to be whipped into a state of near hysterical discontent, because IALPA has persuaded them that their largely self-inflicted complaints have basis in a) fact, b) legal merit, c) ethical relevance and d) a chance of winning, when in fact they have e) none of the above.

Nope, its none of this, at least not according to Learmount. It’s about Skavsta, Beauvais and Ciampino. The three relatively recent incidents that have provoked the Bard of Quadrant House and the seemingly indefatigable Dwarf into a frenzy of rather clever finger pointing. In all three cases, SOP’s went down the toilet as pilots under operational duress tried to be ‘creative’ in solving complex problems. I don’t intend to dissect the incidents here, its been done to death and, in the case of Pprune, with a truly heroic disinclination toward factual discourse. The implication is that our “revolutionary model”, as Learmount’s article puts it, is worthy of closer and a different sort of scrutiny The implication is that there is something about the way we treat our people or the attendant differences in flying as we do, as measured against legacy carriers, which lends itself to these sorts of incidents. It is driven principally by the knowledge of these three events. Three events in the history of a 20year old carrier with 100 Boeing 737-800’s, an additional 200 on the way, and a certain future in Transatlantic long haul in a post Openskies market. A carrier who, at the moment, moves 100,000 Europeans every day on 800 flights using over 1000 pilots to do it. I never wanted to be an actuary, very dull individuals in the main, but even a schoolboy grasp of mathematics and probability will reveal that these three incidents, though serious and important to us as an airline, are statistically and operationally aberrant to the way we do things.
Why now, and why Ryanair?
So much for the “why now”. Lets have a closer look at the “why Ryanair” bit. Call us silly, call us old fashioned, call us crazy brave, but Rynair has an open reporting culture, as distinct from the antithetic urban myth seen here and elsewhere on the subject. We believe that when one of our crews gets it wrong, for whatever reason, we have a very close look at why, and present our findings to everyone in the company. And why do we do this? Because we take the evidently “revolutionary” view that every incident presents a learning opportunity. A window of development whereby all pilots can advance their operation with the intent of avoiding the same pitfalls in the future. And why do we do this? To advance flight safety. And why do we give a fiddlers about that? Because our business will advance as a result. Why Ryanair? Why indeed. We take, or at least took, the view that openness advances safety. Little did we know that those with oblique agendas, those with vested interests in our failure or curtailment, would use this openness and the incidents it highlights as a stick to bash us with.

Now then, why don’t we hear about other airlines incidents? Why indeed. Why haven’t we heard about the two occasions when both pilots (operating for a certain carrier with a fondness for Orange) returning from Athens in the middle of the night found themselves sound asleep over Belgium, gently woken by an F-16 on their wingtips? Why haven’t we heard about the very recent occasion when a 744 operated by a certain G registered airline found itself trying to performing a go-round at Heathrow with landing flap, gear down and speed decay to 105 knots, stick shaker and all? (Oh come gentle jumbos and fall on Slough, it isn’t fit for humans now.) Why indeed. Do you really think, Mr. Learmount, that the OFDM or equivalent departments in ALL European operators have nothing to examine? Really?

I don’t. I put it to you that every operator in Europe has similar HF related aspects to their operations and will do so long as we use Human beings to operate large transport aircraft. Why don’t we hear about them? Because they’re dealt with internally and so ‘managed’ as to avoid the likelihood of adverse publicity. You hear about ours because we’re honest. Wouldn’t it be ironic if, in using our honesty and open commitment to flight safety as a baseball bat to whack us with, Ryanair responded to you by modifying its reporting behaviour to reflect the best practice of our competitors? I wonder if you consider the potential consequences of your article as you nod off at night, Mr. Learmount, beyond those that appeal to your vanity, I mean.

Have another look closer to home before pointing the finger west across the Irish Sea. Much as I know we Irish are always in season for you lot, those in glass houses, as they say.....

2nd Feb 2006, 09:43

you wrote, among other things: <their evidently favourite pastime, Join the Dots and whack Ryanair.>

You're entitled to your opinions. but accusing anyone on Flight International of ever doing that is utter drivel. I challenge you to show any evidence to support your allegation.

In fact, on the contrary, we have several times pointed out that it is a distinguishing feature of the big UK/irish LCCs that, despite their extremely cost-driven business case, they have invested in remarkably high-spec aircraft and infrastructure and have outstanding safety records any way you measure it. We have frequently pointed this out to the general media when contacted about assorted shock-horror allegations.


2nd Feb 2006, 10:10
>>I put it to you that every operator in Europe has similar HF related aspects to their operations and will do so long as we use Human beings to operate large transport aircraft. Why don’t we hear about them? Because they’re dealt with internally and so ‘managed’ as to avoid the likelihood of adverse publicity. You hear about ours because we’re honest.<<

Being open and honest does not detract from the need to solve problems.

Leo Hairy-Camel
2nd Feb 2006, 10:21
Good on you, Algie. Keep up the good work.
I challenge you to show any evidence to support your allegation. Just so we're singing from the same song sheet, Algie, I was referring to IALPA and their vertically challenged windbag in chief, not Flight International. But while we're on the subject, I'm sure you guys intend no private editorial comment in your selection of photographs of our Chief Executive from time to time? Oh, and give those dopes in the subscription department a kick up the arse from me, will you. Deliveries are all over the place like a mad woman's breakfast.

All the best,


2nd Feb 2006, 15:39
Dear Leo,

It is again with great intrest that I read your post. You have found many words to make your point. You talk about an open culture, you point at others that have incidents and this is the highlight of your defence..... weak, weak weak!!!

I reminds me of my sun when he was about 8 years old "yes daddy but he did the same" and "everyone is teasing me"

No Leo not the way I'd say. Past occurrences have raised the questions asked by Mr Davy.

Remember the following issues:
Co-pilot being sacked, before any HF objective investigation,for making a safety decision.
Captain demoted for refusing to continue operating...Oh sorry he was a pain in the b.. as you have said before.
The australien captain.....what exactly did you call his country again?

I can go on and on but I won't. Leo, maybe if FR treated it's people with RESPECT may this "open" culture work, but as long as the operational pressure is considered more importand then anything else you will not be taken serious. Shouting does not help, or make your point any more true neither do many words.

Finnaly I challenge FR, have an independent safety audit (IOSA or something like that) and see where you really are!

Kind regards, Nick

Chippie Chappie
2nd Feb 2006, 19:43
Hi Leo,

Every now and then my mind plays with the idea of working for Ryanair before being brought to my senses. So, thanks for reminding me again how abominable it would be to work for you (or passenger with you for that matter). You may make some good points but I find it difficult to listen to such a pompous donkey. Good luck crewing all those new aircraft...


2nd Feb 2006, 20:36
Three events in the history of a 20year old carrier with 100 Boeing 737-800’s, an additional 200 on the way, and a certain future in Transatlantic long haul in a post Openskies market. A carrier who, at the moment, moves 100,000 Europeans every day on 800 flights using over 1000 pilots to do it. I never wanted to be an actuary, very dull individuals in the main, but even a schoolboy grasp of mathematics and probability will reveal that these three incidents, though serious and important to us as an airline, are statistically and operationally aberrant to the way we do things
...we haven't crashed yet so we must be doing fine...

Statistically the unplanned behaviour of the famous rubber 'O' ring on the space shuttle booster was an equally small event in "actuarial" terms, but, at the time, this same backwards looking logic to risk/safely/reliability assessment was being applied.

Furthermore, the number of planes you have on order does not change the reasoning in this subject, it merely shows arrogance.

2nd Feb 2006, 21:20
Mr. Camels argument can be reduced to the following, my comments in bold:
1. Flight is picking on Ryanair and is biased against it. could be true, I don't know
2. "Cosi Fan Tutti" (everyone is doing it) Everyone has the same problem, not just Ryanair. This is a irrelevant. We are talking about a single airline - Ryanair.
3. The three "relatively recent" incidents are statistically insignifigant. No they are not, read Richard Feyneman's appendix. If you've never read it, read it now.
4. The incidents were a direct result of the failure of the pilots concerned to follow Ryanair's SOP's and all blame is therefore on their shoulders, it has nothing to do with Ryanair. Wrong. It has everything to do with Ryanair because no matter how beautiful the SOP's and Operating manuals look, the corporate culture must be aligned with them otherwise they are window dressing. There appears to be some evidence that that this may be the case as evidenced by the demotion of a Captain after claiming that he was too fatigued to fly. There is also the famous "bullying" letter sent to pilots who have been absent
5. We never hear about other airlines incidents, why pick on us? because you appear to have had three incidents involving pilot error that may or may not have had a related cause - stress.
Lets hope that there are no more such incidents.

2nd Feb 2006, 22:03
SOP is what the word says it is “Standard Operating Procedures”.

Regarding SOP that focus on handling the aircraft; it is important to give enough consideration during training how to recover from a situation that has put you outside the SOP envelope.

You have to train beyond what is normally required. What you do not know, you do not recognize. Stress makes it even more difficult.

David Learmount is wrong; it's not the operator’s business model or CAA audit model but the access to the profession of Airline Pilot that has become a complete joke.

But let’s be realistic, there are more people killed every year by medical malpractice then pilot error.

Just read "The logic of Failure"

2nd Feb 2006, 22:10
Richard Feyneman's [sic] appendix. [to the Challenger disaster report]

IMHO this should be required reading for all engineers, airline managers and regulators.

See also "Mr Feynman goes to Washington: Investigating the space shuttle Challenger Disaster", the 2nd section of “What do you care what other people think? - Further adventures of a curious character" by Richard P Feynman. A very good read and full of lessons about having, or not having, an effective safety culture.

His first book is also an excellent read covering among other (rather more entertaining) things his work on the Manhattan project and his Nobel prize.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Feynman which includes:

His opinion of the cause of the accident differed from the official findings and was considerably more critical of the role of management in sidelining the concerns of engineers. After much petitioning, Feynman's minority report was included as an appendix to the official document. The book What Do You Care What Other People Think? includes stories from Feynman's work on the commission. His engineering skill is reflected in his 98% estimate of the Space Shuttle's reliability, which is underscored by the two failures over the 114 flights of the Space Shuttle as of 2006.

3rd Feb 2006, 08:29
I didn't intend to bend the thread by referring (without direct reference) to Mr Feynman's work, but I think it is now valuable to point out that given Leo Camel's display of superiory and pride, he is not likely to be the sort of person who would be readily open to reading something that looks like it may contain any statistics.
However, in the hope that we manage to engage and influence the key managers positively, I would like to point out that the same Feynman was also famed for his documented efforts to chase women and be a bit of an exhibitionist - maybe this is a more appealing lure to Leo Camel and his types, and might move him and others in his organisation to consider reading the prescribed works.
After all, they follow and respect a 'colourful' leader - Feynman also could certainly be described in the similar terms, though a direct comparison between him and MOL would be quite inapproriate.

3rd Feb 2006, 08:35
Certainly we’re the biggest and the best. We do it better, faster and cheaper than any of our so-called competitors, and will continue to do so, so long as our rigid commitment to flight safety is maintained .....

So, Leo my friend. With all these new shiny toys being delivered like a mad woman's breakfast, who do you think will fly them. Tuesday this week saw another 9 (at least) parked up at EGSS and it's not due to pre-planned cancellations caused by low passenger numbers or late delivery by Boeing. We all know the fact to be lack of drivers. So, toys being delivered at a rate of knots and yet they get parked equally as fast :confused:

This is the first time in FR's history that they have had mass cancellations. It's not Boeing. It's not low passenger bookings. It's no crew.

Now just how many pilots are happy to stay working in this culture of lies and deceit :confused: One day, some day, and god forbid, one of them shiny new toys will end up in a mess and it will not be FR's fault. It will be, according to FR, the crew's fault for not following SOP, or grieving over a lost one, or fatigue or some other rubbish that they can use to weedle themselves out of the problem.

Lets try not have this post deleted. Surely if I want to express my opinion on here, I can :confused:

Ignition Override
5th Feb 2006, 02:14
Just some observations here about low cost carriers, which mostly apply to US airline operations:
Is it a bit ironic that Southwest pilots are the HIGHEST-PAID B-737 pilots in the US, if not the world? They are described in the same paragraph as Ryanair pilots. If Southwest's pay were for many years as low as it is now at the other US majors, would Southwest have become as successful? One can not separate pay and benefits from morale, but Wall Street and most airline "leadership", to use the term very loosely, keep suggesting that there is no connection.

Based upon the new-age business mantra, much of Southwest's flying should have been "out-sourced" many years ago. Why was it not given away? Is it just an accident that Southwest pilots, whose flying was not outsourced, along with other staff, enabled their company to become so outstanding? Maybe outsourcing, this darling business model, so worshiped by Wall Street, is fundamentally flawed?

How well-paid are Ryanair's pilots? How about crew fatigue? How high is their morale?

Low cost and high productivity are not always the same thing. A major airline which wants to guarantee its flightcrews, by a proposed contract change, less than 4 hours and 15 minutes pay per day, is not interested in productivity, is it? It is the pilot unions which want to work more hours per duty period, but many upper or middle managers are against this. If your duty period is worth only 4:30 pay (typical), then why did the company not build the duty period with longer legs, or more legs to fly? The employer creates these trips-not the union.;)

6th Feb 2006, 02:00
I recently worked in a branch of a company, non aviation. They were cutting costs like there was no tomorrow. They were onto every new cost cutting method they thought of. They treated us workers like idiots and ignored our objections and complaints. As is happens there is no tomorrow. That branch closed. Many of us knew it was coming for at least a year but the managers and others apparently couldn't or wouldn't see it.

Ryanair reminds me of that but more in the safety sense. Right now cutting costs is the holy mantra of Ryanair. Every trick is tried. We've seen them all. The airline is profitable and has an excellent safety record, thank mostly to the professionalism of the pilots. But like test flying a new aircraft you can only go the edge of the envelope. Cross that edge and you depart controlled flight. Ryanair has been pushing the envelope for some time now.

You see incidents, well publicised here and elsewhere. There is disquiet in much of the pilot ranks. We all know something is wrong and we all have our opinions as to how to solve them. Some like Leo see nothing wrong in part because nothing really bad has come his way. Nor does he believe the complaints of his fellow aviators. In his corner of Ryanair all is cosy. The issues have passed him by. Lucky Leo. I knew people like him in my old job. They would cut you short when you tried to discuss the issues. The closure was a total shock to them. They never saw it coming.

I knew several pilots who were dead men walking. They way they flew most of us who knew them knew that one day, we would read about them in the papers or gaze at the pictures on the six o'clock news. Ryanair is a bit like that now.

When the time comes for what we all know is almost inevitable. Some of us will be surprised. Most of us won't be. Leo will be. The public and media will be surprised and then horrified. They will ask 'Why was nothing done?'.

It's a good question.