Ryanair pilots regularly fly with less fuel than they'd like according to four Ryanair pilots in KRO's programme, 'Reporter'. They claim that to cut costs they are pressurised into taking as little fuel on board as possible. They see their participation in KRO's 'Reporter' as a wake-up call. "I hope it doesn't take a crash to wake everyone up", says one of them. In 'Reporter', professional organisations call for an in-depth inquiry into the Irish airline's fuel policy.
"Pilots are pressurised into taking as little fuel on board as possible in order to cut costs for the company", one of the pilots says. According to the four pilots this puts safety at risk. "We're always looking for the margins, the regulatory margins too", one of them claims. "Does this affect safety? Yes, it does", replies a colleague.
The pilots link this to events on the 26th of July of this year when three Ryanair planes all sent out mayday emergency calls due to low fuel levels on the same evening when approaching Valencia airport. During a press conference in Madrid, the Ryanair management claimed correct procedures had been followed. But a Spanish air-traffic controller said they were 'emergency' procedures. A reconstruction carried out by Reporter of that evening's events shows a disaster scenario waiting to happen. The pilots claim the incident was a direct result of Ryanair's rigid fuel policy. "If nothing changes then safety will go downhill", was the reaction of one pilot. "Yes, I'm afraid that something will happen if some issues don't change", another pilot said.
Nico Voorbach, President of the European Cockpit Association (ECA) is very concerned about Ryanair's policy: "It's just a matter of time before an aircraft has no fuel left at all. Voorbach is calling for an in-depth inquiry. The ECA is supported by the Dutch Airline Pilots Association. Its chairman Evert van Zwol says: 'I'd like to call for an in-depth inquiry. Not only in the Netherlands but also Europe-wide in order to take a good look at what's going on there.'
In the programme, the four whistleblowers talk about the deep-rooted fear culture at the company. They say that pilots are barely able to resist the pressure. 'When pilots voice their concerns they are punished', they claim. One of the sanctions imposed on pilots who are too critical is to be transferred to a base far away from home. A former captain described Ryanair's management style as: "A regime of suppression and dictatorship."
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