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Ryanair's CEO Suggests Eliminating Co-Pilots

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the outsource-to-ground-control dept.

The Almighty Buck 553

postbigbang writes "Ryanair's miser-in-chief Michael O'Leary now suggests eliminating co-pilots as a way to save money. Will airliners be powered by drones, or is it actually viable to have just a single pilot on passenger planes?"

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Waste (5, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489710)

I'm all for cutting waste and luxuries we can do without. But when it comes to safety and personnel this is just going too far.

Re:Waste (3, Insightful)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489730)

You sacrifice safety for expediency daily. Everyone does. It isn't black and white but a gradient. I do not think it is ridiculous to suggest the advance of modern technology has made co-pilots possibly unnecessarily redundant.

Re:Waste (2, Insightful)

feepness (543479) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489894)

I do not think it is ridiculous to suggest the advance of modern technology has made co-pilots possibly unnecessarily redundant.

I would gladly take the additional risk and save a few bucks.

Flying is much safer than driving even if our monkey brains can't handle the concept of rare medium scale catastrophes vs common small scale ones.

Re:Waste (4, Funny)

Forge (2456) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489986)

How about dumping the flight attendants? On short flights and budget airlines, they hardly serve a purpose. (Unless you were going to follow the suggestion of lowering the educational requirements and removing the uniforms... Ohh... and adding some music, mood lighting and garters designed for holding cash.)

Re:Waste (5, Insightful)

orzetto (545509) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490164)

You seem to think that flight attendants only serve the purpose of serving orange juice. They are trained for safety and security purposes, including crashes and hijacking. Have you ever noticed that they are never teens who want to make a few bucks, like those who wait tables at the local pub? Yet, if the companies could save money hiring teens, rest assured they would.

Re:Waste (3, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490176)

If Ryanair scraps the flight attendants it loses the ability to try to sell stuff to a captive audience. That's not going to happen.

Re:Waste (4, Interesting)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489998)

I would glady pay a few extra bucks to ... not be on the same flight as typical Ryanair customers.

Re:Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33490038)

I would glady pay a few extra bucks to ... not be on the same flight as typical Ryanair customers.

+1

Re:Waste (0)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489952)

I do not think it is ridiculous to suggest the advance of modern technology has made co-pilots possibly unnecessarily redundant.

Technology can fly a plane from JFK to Heathrow. What it can't do is take off from JFK and land at Heathrow.

Re:Why not (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490060)

The Russians autolanded a shuttle years ago, it's hardly a big jump to autoland aircraft.

Re:Why not (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490174)

Correction: the Russians autolanded a shuttle years ago once.

Doing it with the same reliability as a human pilot repeatably and robustly hasn't happened yet. And it'll cost a whole hell of a lot more than it costs to pay a copilot in the near to mid term.

Re:Waste (3, Interesting)

master0ne (655374) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490074)

Actually auto piolet can take off and land a plane, what it cannot do at this point is runway taxiing. The problem is that in some cases a human can deal with unexpected circumstances better than a computer, so it is advantagous to have a human pilot onboard, and redundency is always nice incase one is injured/rendered unconcience in some sort of accident. However it would be feasable to eliminate a co-pilot if airline attendentes were given basic flight instructions (emergency landing/radio operation). In the grand scheme of things, i personally would not feel comftrable (at this point) with the knoldage that there is only one HUMAN on the plane i am on capable of manuvering and landing said aircraft.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autopilot [wikipedia.org] (shows that take-off and landing autopilots do exist)

Re:Waste (5, Informative)

jimngo (320248) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490090)

Yes it can. An autopilot/autothrottle/autoland system can fly an ILS approach, flare and touchdown. It's called CAT III ILS and isn't new technology. It has been around for a few decades. Both JFK and Heathrow have CAT III ILS approaches.

Re:Waste (1)

fmobus (831767) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490172)

Wrong. Cat 3 ILS means you can land the aircraft with zero visibility. You still need a human pilot.

Re:Waste (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490130)

Tried an all-machine landing coming into Chicago last year with American Airlines - was smoothest landing ever, although at one point it felt like a hysteresis somewhere got too excited.

Cannot imagine take-off being all that more difficult.

Re:Waste (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490134)

Technology can fly a plane from JFK to Heathrow. What it can't do is take off from JFK and land at Heathrow.

Autopilots have been able to land planes for years. Probably better than a human as well.

Re:Waste (4, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489954)

How about Ryanair elimate their CEO position? That'll save some money too.

I do not think it is ridiculous to suggest that an AI could replace their CEO.

Re:Waste (1)

Spewns (1599743) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489996)

How about Ryanair elimate their CEO position? That'll save some money too.

Significantly more, I assume.

Re:Waste (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490014)

You sacrifice safety for expediency daily. Everyone does. It isn't black and white but a gradient. I do not think it is ridiculous to suggest the advance of modern technology has made co-pilots possibly unnecessarily redundant.

Of course it hasn't, and it won't until we have a true AI to run the show. Yes, if a flight proceeds normally a modern jetliner can pretty much fly itself. As a matter of fact, the air traffic control system the U.S. uses is based upon very old technology that doesn't account for advances in aircraft guidance systems that have been made over the years. So you're right in that sense: the big boys have been more than capable of routing and guiding themselves to their destinations for some years now. That really isn't the issue, though.

The reason you want an experienced pilot on board is for those times when things don't go right. That happens all the time, more often than you might think, and the reason there aren't more serious accidents is because somebody was there to take over and handle something the automatics couldn't [nydailynews.com] . At the current state-of-the-art, I wouldn't consider boarding an jetliner that didn't have a live pilot in the cockpit.

Whether you believe that pilots make too much money (and yeah, they make a lot) is another issue entirely, and I'm sure that's all Mr. Ryan is concerned about.

Re:Waste (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490024)

I do not think it is ridiculous to suggest the advance of modern technology has made co-pilots possibly unnecessarily redundant.

Co-pilots are there to handle things in case the pilot gets sick or something. If modern technology has made co-pilots unncesessary, it has made pilots unnecessary, period. If it hasn't made pilots redundant, then it has not made co-pilots redundant, either.

Anyway, I think this is a really, really, really stupid idea. You are saving the $10,000-$100,000/year pilot salary and risking the $50-$150 million plane. Even from a corporate sociopath perspective, this is a really dumb idea.

Don't forget the dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33490028)

And on the way to the stated goal by one manufacturer "There will only be one pilot and one dog. The pilot's job is to feed the dog and the dog is there to bite the pilot if he touches anything other than dog food".

Re:Waste (4, Informative)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490042)

You're gambling that a pilot, traveling without a co-pilot, never gets sick, injured or dies [foxnews.com] while flying the plane. I'm sure that's just an isolated incidence [google.com] ... or maybe not.

Re:Waste (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490084)

Until the pilot has a heart attack and dies, which happens periodically. There was one such case just last June on Continental Airlines, and another in February of 2008.... So yeah, if you're willing to increase the number of large airplane crashes by almost one per year, go ahead and cut out the copilots.

The idea of training a flight attendant to perform a landing in the case of a pilot's death means that you would be trusting a minimally trained "pilot" to land a large jet with several hundred people aboard about once per year. That's absolute insanity. That's not cost cutting. It's homicide.

I know I would stop flying IMMEDIATELY on any airline that even CONSIDERED doing that (which means at this point, I'd base jump off the Empire State Building before I'd fly Ryanair, BTW). If your airline's management is stupid enough to consider that, you almost certainly are cutting corners dangerously in other areas, e.g. maintenance. After all, by that same standard, you don't *need* to inspect all those things with such regularity. Most of the time, the parts won't fail even after twice that time....

Now if he had said that they were considering putting in remote control systems so that a backup pilot on the ground could take over electronically in the event that the pilot became incapacitated, that might be palatable. There are ways for technology to reduce the need for a copilot in this day of fly-by-wire aircraft. However, what this guy is suggesting puts him beyond bonkers straight to psychopathic, homicidal maniac. Their CEO shouldn't be leading an airline. He should be locked up in a padded room somewhere so that he can't harm himself or others.

Re:Waste (4, Informative)

pehrs (690959) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490116)

Well, it is ridiculous.

In the cockpit you have two pilots for a reason. One is PF (Pilot Flying). One is PNF (Pilot Not Flying). The PF is responsible for actually flying the plane. The PNF is responsible for all the checks and offloading to ensure the pilot can take care of the plane. He reads the checklists, handles communication and everything else. And even with this set of checks one of the most common causes of accidents is "Pilot Error". Removing the checking function of the PNF in that situation is beyond insane. It would take us back 30 years in aircraft security and completely ignores the whole CRM (Cockpit Resource Management) concept. You should think of removing the CNF as making a law that all drivers on the road must speak in their mobile phone and fiddle with the radio while driving.

Also, better technology has not made airplanes easier to fly. It has made them safer and more powerful, but not easier. It's like claiming that a modern nuclear powerplant doesn't need any engineers because it's all automatic... Planes are large and very complex machines. More technology means more failure modes.

Re:Waste (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489734)

And they are also going to charge £1 for a visit to the loo.

So what happens when you run out of coins? Wet your seat? That would put an end to the fee fairly soon.

Re:Waste (4, Insightful)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489806)

Unfortunately, no. The way things are going... you'll be arrested for being a terrorist.

Re:Waste (1)

Knave75 (894961) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489742)

Frankly, I believe that computers make fewer mistakes than humans, so I would in fact prefer a plane with a single (or no) human pilots.

Before I get hit with a straw man, I am in no way saying that computers are infallible. Of course they are programmed by humans, and mistakes will be made. I am just saying that the error rate for computers is probably less than that for humans. We kinda suck at not making mistakes.

Re:Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33489874)

Frankly, I believe that computers make fewer mistakes than humans, so I would in fact prefer a plane with a single (or no) human pilots.

Before I get hit with a straw man, I am in no way saying that computers are infallible. Of course they are programmed by humans, and mistakes will be made. I am just saying that the error rate for computers is probably less than that for humans. We kinda suck at not making mistakes.


I do agree with you, but it's also true that humans are really good at noticing that something's not right and coming up with a contingency plan based on the current circumstances. Computers aren't particularly good at that. And if they were, I have no reason to believe that Ryanair would consider using such complex/costly systems.

Re:Waste (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490046)

May depend on what kind of aircraft Ryanair flies, if previous discussions of air safety had any substance to them.

Recall the Air France flight that came down over the Atlantic, and it led to a debate of human vs. computer control in passenger aircraft. Lots of it boiled down to Americans and Europeans beating the our-engineers-are-smarter-than-you drum at each other, despite the fact that both Airbus and Boeing have comparable and very good safety records with their respective approaches. If anything the debate was made more heated because there is so little in it.

Anyhow, this may be a case where it does make a difference. Removing a co-pilot might be a completely different proposition in an Airbus or a Boeing.

Old joke (4, Funny)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489902)

Frankly, I believe that computers make fewer mistakes than humans, so I would in fact prefer a plane with a single (or no) human pilots.

Reminds me :

Q: What is the ideal cockpit crew?
A: A pilot and a dog...the pilot is there to feed the dog, and the dog is there to bite the pilot in case he tries to touch anything.

Re:Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33489962)

Your computer would have let all of these people die and possibly taken out several buildings. Please run for congress.

Re:Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33490100)

What's the crash rate of drones like the Predator, Reaper and the like? Pretty high. No thanks - if unmanned drones piloted by humans don't fare so well, no thanks to much larger unmanned drones piloted by computers.

And please don't tell me the tech for auto-landing airliners is better - they are rarely if ever used in the field beyond certification type testing, so the question of whether they would work well enough in day to day production is undetermined.

Re:Waste (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489826)

I actually say that IT types use this as an opportunity. I think we have the tech to completely replace a co-pilot with AI. After that has been in place for a while and working well we could replace the pilot too. Really, flying a plane isn't terribly complicated, I hear landing requires skill but not smarts. And AI has unlimited skill. Emergency decisions could be controlled from the ground.

You'd gain valuable cockpit space for first FIRST class seats that get wall to wall windows which would help for costs. And we could market it to the paranoid government officials with the line: Hijack this, bitch.

Oh dear... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489856)

Emergency decisions could be controlled from the ground.

Because there'd never be any sort of interference between the plane and the ground...

Hijack this, bitch.

So now it can be hijacked with a cell phone, instead of box cutters. And now the TSA will start banning personal electronics on planes, making air travel even less pleasant, even though it would also be possible to do the same thing from the ground.

Thanks for that.

remote control for Emergency is bad as all it take (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489904)

remote control for Emergency is bad as all it takes is for something to mess up the link for things to go from bad to worse.

Re:Waste (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33489930)

Emergency decisions could be controlled from the ground. [...] Hijack this, bitch.

You might want to think that over.

Re:Waste (1)

yoshscout (1822282) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489990)

Really, flying a plane isn't terribly complicated, I hear landing requires skill but not smarts.

I am neither an expert in flying one of the commercial planes, but I am going to say your really underestimating this one. It might seem simple to you, but fire up one of the simulators and let's see if you hold that point. With lives on the line, the risk vs. reward is . They barely pay the co-pilots anything as is.

Re:Waste (5, Interesting)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489964)

I'm all for cutting waste and luxuries we can do without. But when it comes to safety and personnel this is just going too far.

The exact same thing was said when the railroad industry began to eliminate brakemen.

They too were the "eyes and ears" on the train, served critical safety functions, and acted as a backup engineer. Better technology came along, and they were simply no longer needed. The new air brakes failed less often than the people did. Trains were safer with an automated system being responsible for a task formerly done by a human.

The exact same thing was said in 1911 when someone entered a car into the Indy 500 that carried only one person. It was unsafe; it endangered other drivers. The new technology this time was a rear-view mirror. Now this dangerous technological replacement for a live human being is a standard feature on all cars.

Also in 1911 came the development of automatic helm control for ships. The technology ended up faster, more accurate, and more reliable than a trained, experienced career helmsman. Guess what the major complaint was? Yeah...it was "unsafe"

Re:Waste (1)

goffster (1104287) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490186)

So why not have 2 co-pilots? 3 co-pilots? It always boils down to a matter of cost.
If the cost of a co-pilot exceeds the expected cost of a crash because the co-pilot was not there, say, over 1000 flights,
then the co-pilot should be eliminated.

Huh? (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489722)

There are good reasons for having a co-pilot. What he's really saying is that pilots salaries are (in his opinion) excessive, and he thinks he sees a cheap way out by eliminating the "unnecessary" backup pilot.

Which will work great until that pilot has a coronary at 35,000 feet.

Re:Huh? (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489824)

Providing he and other members of the board and senior management are forced to be on every aircraft that has only one pilot, you know, to show that they stand behind what they say, I say give it a go.

Re:Huh? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489850)

Providing he and other members of the board and senior management are forced to be on every aircraft that has only one pilot, you know, to show that they stand behind what they say, I say give it a go.

I dunno ... never underestimate the power of human stupidity, particularly when there's money involved. I mean, this particular board has tolerated a fruitcake as CEO for some time now.

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490066)

I dunno ... never underestimate the power of human stupidity, particularly when there's money involved. I mean, this particular board has tolerated a fruitcake as CEO for some time now.

Boards don't generally view CEOs who generate huge and increasing profits, and vast quantities of free publicity, as fruitcakes.

Re:Huh? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490118)

I dunno ... never underestimate the power of human stupidity, particularly when there's money involved. I mean, this particular board has tolerated a fruitcake as CEO for some time now.

Boards don't generally view CEOs who generate huge and increasing profits, and vast quantities of free publicity, as fruitcakes.

I agree. But he's still a fruitcake.

Re:Huh? (1)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490068)

What he's really saying is that pilots salaries are (in his opinion) excessive...

And the kicker is that pilot salaries are really in a pretty bad spot these days:

http://www.salon.com/technology/ask_the_pilot/2009/03/20/askthepilot313 [salon.com]

One of my uncles is also a pilot and he has said it is tough to have any sort of leverage when it comes to your job given that they know that they have you over a barrel. The airlines know that unless a pilot has virtually no seniority they would face a huge pay cut if they wanted to another company. Not exactly a incentive for them to treat their pilots well.

Re:Huh? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33490146)

These days?

Pilots have always had terrible salaries. The companies bank on pilot's love of flying to override their desire for pay. Pilots have always had a rough time of it. The only thing that has changed is that they used to be more respected and looked up to (I don't know if that was ever deserved though).

Growing up I wanted to be a pilot because my dad was one for a short while. When I got older he explained the reality and I looked into myself and found out that it's actually a really boring job with shit pay.

If you really want a job flying then the military is the best way to go, but it's a gamble on many levels. Other than that if you just love flying then it helps to be rich.

Re:Huh? - Plenty of work to keep both pilots busy (4, Informative)

jdmonin (124516) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490160)

There's an article, by a commercial pilot, about the myths of jets able to "fly themselves" at http://www.salon.com/technology/ask_the_pilot/2009/11/19/askthepilot342 [salon.com] . You have to scroll down a little to get to the meat of it, but there's plenty up there to keep 2 people busy.

He also talks about how busy things can get in an earlier article http://www.salon.com/technology/ask_the_pilot/2007/08/31/askthepilot243/index.html [salon.com] .

You don't want the best, you want cheap. (4, Informative)

rve (4436) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489724)

Ryanair has been coming up with more revolutionary ways to save money:

Let stewardesses land planes:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/7981643/Ryanair-boss-says-air-stewardesses-should-be-allowed-to-land-planes-in-an-emergency.html [telegraph.co.uk]

Let passengers stand:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/5753477/Ryanair-to-make-passengers-stand.html [telegraph.co.uk]

Re:You don't want the best, you want cheap. (1)

Gazoogleheimer (1466831) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490162)

Yes, although training a flight attendant* to land a plane then expecting to pay her like a flight attendant isn't exactly tenable.

Expecting any standing passengers to survive a crash is highly unrealistic, even with vertical seats -- which is why that idea is negligent at best.

In this case, regulations exist for preventing corporations from reducing prices--that, even while more people might fly--come at too high an external cost.

All three ideas are absurd. An autopilot seeks to automate the majority of cruising tasks, but it's yet another computer system with garbage in, garbage out. The existence of a redundant individual seeks to act as the equivalent of the triple or quadruple-redundant computers in place on the aircraft. In the general aviation world, the presence of a second pilot greatly increases safety. Not only would standing be tiring, it would prevent people from having a crumple zone underneath them (the seats look like they can collapse for a reason -- they do) and greatly increase crash mortality. Allowing flight attendants to land planes just seems a bit silly. Startlingly enough, propelling a can of people through the air is still pretty expensive. You can only do it so cheaply, especially with an acceptable level of safety.

Eliminating co-pilots? (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489726)

I suggest sending them to sleep or maybe browsing Facebook...

Re:Eliminating co-pilots? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489816)

I suggest sending them to sleep or maybe browsing Facebook...

Well, in the U.S., FAA rules prevent pilots from taking naps, I understand. Not sure about Facebook though.

Re:Eliminating co-pilots? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490002)

Considering they aren't allowed to use computers while flying, I would say it's a "no" regarding Facebook

Slashdot suggests eliminating VPs to reduce cost (4, Funny)

Solandri (704621) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489740)

Should an emergency arise, the CEO could ring a bell and a specially trained board member could come in and take over running the company.

Re:Slashdot suggests eliminating VPs to reduce cos (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489828)

Should an emergency arise, the CEO could ring a bell and a specially trained board member could come in and take over running the company.

Yes. And that board member will have a large red, rubber nose and have huge, goofy shoes and will be named "Bozo."

Re:Slashdot suggests eliminating VPs to reduce cos (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33489916)

No, no, the idea is someone other than the CEO takes over running things.

Re:Slashdot suggests eliminating VPs to reduce cos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33490114)

Oh great, add to my fear of flight, fear of clowns too. Jackass.

What could go wrong? (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489752)

So if the pilot has a aneurism mid-way across the Atlantic, one of the flight attendants is going to take over? I know auto-pilots have come a long way over the years, but I'd rather have a qualified, competent, human backup at the ready. This guy doesn't sound like he has the mental prowess to run a Burger King. Which genius decided he should be CEO?

It's actually very smart, if evil. (4, Insightful)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489794)

He gets free publicity from the newspapers by announcing these outrageous ideas. None of them ever come to pass, but the column inches he gets could cost millions if he had to pay for them.

Re:It's actually very smart, if evil. (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489840)

Contrary to popular believe, any publicity is NOT good publicity. Anyone willing to even propose such a blatant risk to the lives of their customers isn't a company I will ever do business with.

Re:It's actually very smart, if evil. (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489918)

Contrary to popular believe, any publicity is NOT good publicity. Anyone willing to even propose such a blatant risk to the lives of their customers isn't a company I will ever do business with.

You'd better tell Ryanair that. They are possibly the only company I've ever met which has turned appalling customer service into an art form of which they are proud.

Re:It's actually very smart, if evil. (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490034)

What makes you think this is blatant risk to the lives of their customers? Is there any evidence how useful co-pilots really are for the safety? On the other hand, I recall reading at least one story here on slashdot where the copilot distracted the pilot by bullshiting about his laptop or something, causing them to significantly overshoot the target airport.

Re:It's actually very smart, if evil. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489912)

I'd think this is evidence that there is such a thing as bad publicity -- I know I might have considered flying his airline before reading about this.

How About... (2, Insightful)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489754)

Yeah, because getting rid of the back-up pilot is such a wonderful idea. How about I eliminate Ryanair as an airline I'll travel on?

Re:How About... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490072)

I suggest you do anyway, unless you are willing to give up comfort for a few dollars. The summary calls him the 'miser in chief' and that is an excellent description. Somewhere else the same guy suggested allowing passengers to stand in exchange for a cheaper fare, and really it isn't such a bad idea since standing wouldn't be too much worse than what they give passengers now. It's the kind of airplane you take when cost is absolutely the only thing you care about.

redundancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33489760)

O'Leary probably only runs on 1 hard drive with no backups. I wouldn't want to fly on that airline.

More typical wankery from the master thereof. (5, Insightful)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489762)

This jerk gets publicity for his cheap-ass airline by making outrageous threats, most of which are unlawful in any case. Not long ago it was pay toilets in the plane. Then it was standing room only, no seats, with harnesses to hold you in place. It's just a way of getting print space in newspapers that emphasizes how low his fares are.

He is, in short, a troll. Buy some advertising and STFU.

Re:More typical wankery from the master thereof. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489868)

He is, in short, a troll.

I think you're right. He'd fit right in here on Slashdot: of course, he'd either get "+5 Funny" or "-5: Troll." Hard to imagine anyone taking him seriously.

Re:More typical wankery from the master thereof. (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489892)

Perhaps if they need to cut required costs, then they have no business being in business? Surely it's not impossible to make a no-frills airline actually work out. Oh wait it is because if you're too competitive no airports will let you land there because they don't want you competing with their airlines.

Re:More typical wankery from the master thereof. (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490122)

Then it was standing room only, no seats, with harnesses to hold you in place.

That could actually work and be safe and reasonably comfortable. We already use something like this in high-G rollercoasters in amusements parks, right?

Just ring the bell... (0)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489778)

"If the pilot has an emergency, he rings the bell, he calls her in..."

O'Leary is wearing a big bag of crazy on his shoulders, but some of his ideas are so over the top it would be entertaining to allow those practices and let the market decide on their wisdom. It should make for some exciting news reports as well.

Why pay *anyone*? (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489792)

How about just offering free flights for pilots, waitresses, and doctors? Kind of like the self-checkout at the grocery store...

Better Idea (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489802)

Nothing against flight attendants but do we really need more than one? Stop serving drinks and get us from point A to point B safely. That's all we care about.

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33489896)

Nothing against flight attendants but do we really need more than one? Stop serving drinks and get us from point A to point B safely. That's all we care about.

The safely part is where the cabin crew come in. Virtually all of the pilots' tasks can already be automated but it's harder to come up with an automated evacuation of a burning aircraft.

Re:Better Idea (2, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489966)

You've never seen a passenger throw a hissy fit, have you? Or start screaming? The FAs may be useless until the shit hits the fan, and then there aren't enough of them. They aren't there to serve drinks; they are there to keep the passengers in line.

I have 2 pilots in my family; it's hard, stressful work that takes a toll on their families and their own health.

Eliminating more staff is not the way to go. Do you really want the cheapest, least experienced person at the helm and in the cabin? That's fine when the weather is fine. Try it in a typhoon, when the plane is bucking, the passengers are puking and screaming, and then tell me they can eliminate staff.

Pilots on Food Stamps (3, Interesting)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489864)

This reminds me of this segment [youtube.com] of Michael Moore's 'Capitalism: A Love Story', where he discusses airline pilots that are so poorly paid that they are on food stamps and having to work second jobs to make ends meet (with potentially disastrous consequences).

Re:Pilots on Food Stamps (4, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490138)

Frontline: Flying Cheap: "A hard look at the risks that may go with cheap flying."
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/flyingcheap/ [pbs.org]

When you start off flying commercial, almost every starts at a regional airline. You may be buying a United or Continental ticket, but it's a seperate airline that codeshares with the big boys. Those co-pilots on those aircraft are making between $18K-28K/year, are only paid from when the cabin door closes until it opens at the destination, and have their schedules dicked with by the airline's scheduling/routing department so that, while technically compliant with labor laws, they're extremely exhausting and some even nap in the cabin. Keep this in mind the next time you shop for your airline ticket based on price.

God is my co-pilot (3, Insightful)

hex0D (1890162) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489866)

...and he was declared dead before powered flight even existed.

Seriously (3, Informative)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489876)

I'm all for leaning on technology, but this just seems like profiteering

Just in case you weren't paying attention, there has been a big move in the US to increase regulations on commuter carriers who have driven down pilot pay and driven up pilot hours in order to increase profits. A lack of pilot training and an over reliance of the autopilot was seen as a direct cause of the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-07-30-aviation-safety_N.htm [usatoday.com]

IMHO, this makes ryanair's request unreasonable

Re:Seriously (1)

ArieKremen (733795) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490050)

I remember flying when there was a three-man crew in the cockpit: pilot, co-pilot, and engineer. On some smaller passenger airplanes there is already only one person on the flightdeck. Eventually technology and technophobes - as witnessed in some of the previous posts - will sufficiently advance to accept a one-person crew flying increasingly larger airplanes. Regulations will be adapted and none of the young'ons will remember a two-person flight crew. Nobody said it will happen tomorrow, but a gradual implementation is reasonable, just as A-380's still have three men crews and a back-up crew on long distance routes.

Some aircraft are designed to have a crew ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489878)

Not feasible today. Sufficiently large or complex aircraft are designed to be crew operated. You can not just leave the copilot seat empty.

Re:Some aircraft are designed to have a crew ... (4, Insightful)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489932)

Part of the job of a pilot is to keep an eye on all the automation. The problem is that its very difficult to stay alert for long periods of time waiting for a very rare failure. Two pilots tend to keep each other awake and alert. (Yes I know about the plane the overflew its destination while the 2 pilots were looking at something on a laptop - but that is such a rare event that it made the national news).

Humans and automation tend to fail in very different ways - humans are much better at dealing with unexpected situations, automation is much better at doing repetitive jobs without mistakes.

Having a second pilot probably adds about $1/hour per passenger seat (including all overhead etc) - at the moment I think its still a good deal.

Re:Some aircraft are designed to have a crew ... (2, Interesting)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490058)

Yes I know about the plane the overflew its destination while the 2 pilots were looking at something on a laptop through their eyelids

FTFY.

Bravo Timothy! (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 4 years ago | (#33489922)

This is just like his previous ideas of having passengers standing up for the flight or (so far at least) pay-for use toilets. There's no way it would ever fly (pun intended), but it does get RyanAir a lot of free publicity in the press and TV news. Congratulations, you just gave him some more!

That said, flip this on its head and have the co-pilot assuming the role of a flight attendant or purser while the plane is on auto-pilot probably would be within regulations, although without quite the same degree of cost savings. That kind of makes sense as the chances are that when two pilots are required in the cockpit the fasten seatbelts light will be on anyway, so having one less attendant won't matter.

Re:Bravo Timothy! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490064)

That said, flip this on its head and have the co-pilot assuming the role of a flight attendant or purser while the plane is on auto-pilot probably would be within regulations, although without quite the same degree of cost savings.

Fly on a small regional jet and you will see exactly that. One of the flight crew helps secure the cabin, glares at the idiot(s) trying to get their oh-so-important last text off and the moron(s) trying to stuff the results of their last shopping spree into the glove-box sized overhead bin.

He or she doesn't get you coffee or a magazine, but then again, nobody else does it either.

I assume that the shift in duties on the RJ is more along the lines of keeping weight down and the fact that a single cabin attendant can get the passengers out the door in the event of an emergency rather than cost savings per se.

But you're forgetting that the main duties of the cabin crew is to assist you in getting your lame ass out of the cabin in the unlikely, but potentially catastrophic event of a problem. Given the single digit intelligence of most of the flying public, I'm surprised that the FAA doesn't mandate a 1:1 passenger to cabin crew ratio. (If you can't tell, just finished another round of take-your-shoes-off, comrade).

the idea of strapped in standing is not so bad (1)

voss (52565) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490006)

Im 6'4 id rather be standing on a short flight(less than hour) than sitting in some of those cramped seats with the idiots who thinks
their right to recline into my knees.

Another possibility is that ... (1)

Artem Tashkinov (764309) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490016)

When his company bankrupts (people will surely not appreciate this idea) and people start fleeing to other companies for flights, the demand will rise and other companies will become more profitable. If not saving money for himself, he could actually help other companies earn more.

Re:Another possibility is that ... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490144)

As long as people are willing to put up with quite a bit of agony for a low ticket price, Ryanair will exist.

Planes should be drones with pilot as backup (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490018)

In this day in age planes should be drones by now with a "pilot" only being called to duty in an emergency. Otherwise he could be helping out with the flight crew as more of an "engineer" making sure everything is working smoothly.

Of course that probably would not go over too well with the "unions" but that is to be expected.

Maybe, but not necessarily a bad idea (5, Interesting)

Aquitaine (102097) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490020)

Disclaimer: IANACP (I Am Not a Commercial Pilot) but IAAP (I Am A Pilot)

There are probably some flights, in some aircraft, where you could train a flight crew member to do enough to relieve the captain of enough tasks so that (s)he can concentrate on landing the plane. In some cases it isn't that any one part of getting an aircraft from A to B is difficult so much as it's the sheer number of tasks at hand -- between monitoring a zillion instruments and talking to approach, then the tower, then the ground -- that you just need a second person there. Even in a small plane, there are times when having a co-pilot just handle the radio makes things a lot easier.

The actual mechanics of flying an airplane are not especially difficult, but knowing how to handle bad or emergency conditions while keeping cool is. It's easy to get overwhelmed just by the quantity of things you have to keep track of. It's plausible that, on shorter, commuter flights, a computer could do enough of those things so that one person can reasonably fly a plane.

The problem is that, while most pilots are pretty safety-conscious, there is such a huge supply of them that there will always be people willing to fly for these companies under less than ideal conditions. Particularly with the minimum number of hours (in the US, anyway) jumping to 1500 (from something like 200-250, which was indeed too low), you're going to see a lot of young guys with a lot of debt from flight school (where commercial loans are on the order of 12-18% interest) who will take any job just to pay the bills. They just don't get paid very well these days, and airline margins are tiny as it is.

Decisions, decisions (1)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490040)

Let's see, you have an airliner with a pilot, a co-pilot who's job it is to fly the plane and keep all of the passengers alive if the pilot dies, and a stewardess who's job it is to serve food and make sure the passengers are comfortable. Out of those three, let's get rid of the co-pilot to save money.

humans in the cockpit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33490054)

I think the real reason we all, deep down,want a human pilot in the plane at the controls is that we want to know that the stakes are just as high for the pilot as they are for the passengers. An acute awareness of mortal danger to oneself focuses the mind.

Redundancy.... (1)

BangaIorean (1848966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490070)

A "co-pilot" is extremely essential for 'redundancy'. We need that second guy in the cockpit to take care of eventualities like the pilot sufferring a heart attack or some similar ailment mid-flight...

Why not eliminate both? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490076)

It seems like if you're going to get rid of one, why not go whole hog?

Instead, the whole thing should be centered around telepresence. You don't really need a pilot for anything except takeoff and landing anyway - so let a group of pilots control that part of the flight from a control center in India or China, and in-between you just tell it to go wherever, perhaps altering course to avoid storms.

Now obviously this is less safe. That's why each person would be issued a parachute. In the evert the telepresence link was lost, and the planes automated systems could figure things out - the passengers all pop out and land gently in a field somewhere with a complementary GPS homing beacon to find them. And if someone started acting kind of crazy on a plane, or simply had really bad BO - you could leave rather than have to endure. Really wanted to stop off somewhere besides a major city? Just find a plane with a route going over wherever you like. Further down the line each person on the plane would have their own STarship Troopers style drop pod instead of a parachute. Well, maybe just first class.

I have many other ideas for improving air travel, including full kitchens and an innovative way to carry both livestock and passengers with the greatest level of comfort. But that's enough for now.

The future could be now, if only we got rid of a whole host of pesky safety regulations that prevent you living the world I have outlined.

Blend of copilot and cabin crewmember? (1)

Greg_J7 (1590811) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490078)

If a computer-as-a-copilot is dependable these days, I wouldn't mind if the copilot position was replaced by one of the flight crew who had some training in landing a plane, but did other work when the human pilot was "functioning properly." The idea of having only one person on the plane capable of landing it is a bit disconcerting. One heart attack shouldn't result in 300 deaths. However, I am not a pilot--perhaps it really is appropriate for a second person to be doing sanity checks on the pilot throughout the flight.

As usual... (1)

RoscBottle (937276) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490080)

... I would suggest replacing the CEO (and other idiotic managers) with a simple mechanical automaton. Could probably do a better a job and would only require simple maintenance. Evidently the monkey isn't working in most of these cases.

Surely you can't be serious! (1)

Computer_kid (996105) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490088)

What if the pilot has the fish?

Remote Control... (1)

AffidavitDonda (1736752) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490098)

How about that: Make the planes remote controlled and then let people volunteer (or even pay for it) to fly them through a Flight Simulator interface.

Well, well, ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33490142)

... yet another reason not to fly with RyanAir.

Ryanair's Marketing Strategy (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#33490156)

Just want to clear up something - Ryanair's marketing strategy can only be described as "trolling the media." They release more and more insane ways to "cut costs" on their airline which the media reports and everyone leaves with the message that Ryanair are very serious about low cost flight.

To give two examples, they "announced" they wanted to remove toilets, and remove seats so you spent the entire flight standing. Nothing ever came of either of these, but the media loved it, and they get the CEO on the airways who just repeated the companies business model over and over again - "looking for more ways to cut costs" "I want Ryanair to be the cheapest in the EU" etc.

da free marked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33490178)

Why not let the passengers decide if they want a co-pilot and if they do, see how much money they can raise to hire one on the spot.
Hey, it's a free market and everybody's gotta learn to be responsible for his decisions...

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