Ryanair – we have an open culture of raising safety concerns but you might get sacked if you do?

Did you notice the irony of Ryanair’s behaviour last week? A pilot says that they have created a culture of fear which hinders the reporting of safety issues, Ryanair deny it and then promptly sack him for raising his concerns???Ryanair safety concerns

Channel 4’s “Dispatches” programme reported that Ryanair’s pilots had concerns over safety. They said that on a survey of over 1,000 Ryanair pilots the majority  said there was not “an open and transparent safety culture” at the company and they “didn’t feel comfortable raising safety issues through the company’s own safety systems”.

Ryanair denounced the survey in one breath and then in the other, promptly sacked the pilot who expressed safety concerns on camera. And just to be sure they are reported to be considering legal proceedings against him for defamation.

How does this behaviour help to promote an open culture of safety reporting?

Let’s be fair, Ryanair does have an excellent safety record, one of the best in fact. Not a single fatality which is impressive in itself and even more so when you consider it carries the most passengers in Europe.

However you have to bear in mind that the growth of the airline has been relatively recent and so it has a lot of very young aircraft, which by their nature will have very good safety records.

You have to think what is going to happen when these aircraft get older? Is Ryanair going to replace them with new planes or are they going to try and get as much value out of their existing stock as possible?

The older the aircraft becomes the more likely something is to go wrong and that’s when reporting procedures become even more critical. According to the safety expert interviewed by Dispatches, the majority of aircraft accidents come from failures that have occurred before on that aircraft. The pilots have the “eyes and ears” to experience the faults but they also need the mouth to report them.

One positive incentive on Ryanair to keep safety as a top priority is the fact that they may be the most vulnerable airline to a loss in business should a serious accident take place. Firstly because people might put 2+2 together and think that as they are a low cost airline they don’t spend as much on safety and secondly because there may be lot of “ill-will” that has been created by Ryanair’s “two fingers” PR policy towards many passengers, some of whom are waiting for an excuse not to travel with them.

Ryanair say that safety is indeed their top priority and that their pilots are scaremongering in order to gain some form of quasi-union rights. Let’s just hope that as their aircraft get older this is indeed the case and that their pilots do feel able to report the inevitable faults that arise on aircraft from time to time.

What do you think? Do you think that Ryanair recognise that safety is “off limits” when it comes to cost cutting?

One Response to “Ryanair – we have an open culture of raising safety concerns but you might get sacked if you do?”