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Ryanair wrong over pilot fatigue

Michael O’Leary, the Chief Executive of Ryanair, today said that pilot fatigue as a result of flying in short-haul operations does not exist, and that pilots fly a maximum of 18 hours a week. On both points we believe he is wrong.

Brian Strutton, BALPA General Secretary, said: “Fatigue is endemic in all kinds of commercial flying. To suggest that pilot fatigue in short-haul operations can only occur because of the pilot’s activities outside of work is, in our view, wrong.

“BALPA is worried about what message this is giving to pilots, and what effect this management attitude has on safety culture.

“Pilots are legally-bound to report their fatigue as it can have dangerous effects on pilot performance. Ryanair appears to be telling its pilots that if they report, their attitude will be that it’s the pilot’s own fault. This is not a good way to engender an open reporting culture.

“Additionally, the 18-hour figure that Mr O’Leary has come up with does not seem to have any basis in reality. Pilots’ flying and duty hours are rightly regulated in order to avoid fatigue. Current EU-level regulations limit pilots’ duty hours to 60 per week, and flying hours to 100 in 28 days.

“If Ryanair cared to share their pilots’ rosters with us we’d be happy to analyse them for fatigue.

“It is the responsibility of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) to regulate Ryanair. I think they should look carefully at these comments by Mr O’Leary and decide whether they could give rise to concerns about the safety culture in that airline.”