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Pilots: Ryanair pushes us to run on empty

The Local · 16 Aug 2012, 17:15

Published: 16 Aug 2012 17:15 GMT+02:00

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"If an airline has to do emergency landings three times on one day due to a lack of fuel, something's wrong with the system," spokesman for the pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit, Jörg Handwerg, told Financial Times Deutschland on Thursday.

The three Ryanair airplanes were forced to land in Valencia rather than Madrid because their tanks were almost empty, he said.

"Fuel is the biggest cost factor, particularly with budget airlines," Handwerg said.

And the more fuel an aircraft is carrying, the heavier that aircraft is, thereby pushing up consumption, he argued.

Nevertheless, it should be left up to a pilot how much fuel they take on board, because it is ultimately the pilot who is responsible for the safety of a flight, said Handwerg.

Ryanair was exerting heavy pressure on pilots whose jets showed the highest fuel consumption, he complained. "This infringes on the pilots' rights," Handwerg said.

The Irish airline, which stands accused by consumer organisations of having put passengers in danger, said this was not the case. It said both planes landed with enough fuel for another 30 minutes' flight time, or 300 flight miles - in accordance with Boeing security rules and those of the EASA European aviation security authority.

The Spanish transport ministry said earlier this week it was investigating a complaint by airport operator AENA against Ryanair.

Airline spokesman Stephen McNamara said Ryanair supported the investigation and was ready to cooperate with the authorities.

AFP/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:33 August 16, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
And this has nothing to do with Klaus-Peter Siegloch, president of the German Air Transport Industry (BDL) saying ticket prices must go up so as Lufthansa and AirBerlin can make more profit? Right?

Cannot compete with low cost airlines more like it so resort to bad pressing them instead so they are forced to become less competitive. German Big Corp at it's disgustingly most devious.
20:50 August 16, 2012 by wood artist
@Berlin fuer alles

30 minutes reserve fuel is NOT acceptable. On an Atlantic flight, hitting a typical headwind could easily wipe that out...and swimming the rest of the way isn't really a great option. If weather, or an airport issue (closed runway due to any number of reasons) might well leave a plane with no options...nearest airport is too far away, and already over-booked with diverted flights, etc.

I can't speak for everyone, but the options for the passengers on a plane that runs out of fuel aren't real great. Carrying the "minimum" fuel reserve is like doing the "minimum amount" at work, a play that's likely to get you in trouble. Losing your job is nothing compared to killing a plane-load of passengers.

21:17 August 16, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
I am not disputing that it is unacceptable. I am questioning the motive behind the article. I also question if Ryanair are the only airline doing this. I feel this is far more commonplace than we realise.
23:01 August 16, 2012 by Eric1
Some "news" articles are politically moviated, pushed by union bosses and left-wing politicians.
23:22 August 16, 2012 by catjones
Leaving the fuel load up to each pilot seems foolish. I would prefer an algorithm taking all factors into consideration and then produce the result. Should we leave maintenance up to them? Ticket prices? How about just fly the airplane.
01:12 August 17, 2012 by yourkeau
Sounds like another safety propaganda. Isn't it green to reduce the fuel consumption?

They comply with all safety regulations, what else one should require from them?
04:52 August 17, 2012 by lenny van
Here's question for you. How do you feel about inexperienced copilots paying the airline company to allow them to sit in the right-hand seat and log the flight hours which they need in order to get a job with a company which pays them, instead of vice versa.

I suspect that no one believes this is true, but it actually happens on low cost airlines. It is a ood example of free market, unregulated, supply and demand capilism at its finest. But should we be happy that flying is so cheap?

Trust me; it is absolute rubbish to think that companies are making up stories in order to get public support to raise prices. The low cost airlines depend for their existence on low prices because they know that so many people only fly with the cheapest airline. In order to keeptheir planes in the air, they hae to skimp on safety and service, Pls read "Attention All Passengers" by William J. McGee, ISBN. by: 978-0-06-208837-6 and see what we can look forward to in Europe if you are unwilling to pay for safety and service.

My own book about the 25,000 hours that I spent flying airplanes around the world should be published in 2013 and will include some surprises that you will find hard to believe. We happen to be fortunate to have a a reputable airline like Lufthansa as our major air carrier inGermany, but who would have thought how far the standards at even the major classic airlines in America, like United, Delta and U.S. Air have fallen in order for these companies to stay competitive with the low cost airlines. I won't even visit America anymore if I think that there is a chance that might have to fly with an American airline inside the United States.
06:41 August 17, 2012 by tumanskaya
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
10:25 August 17, 2012 by crunchy2k
Seems the EU is more concerned about killing file sharing between friends than taking care of business. Planes connecting the western US have a full load of kerosene to stay in the air for 1 hour over an airport....
17:38 August 17, 2012 by seaviewtoScotland
Why anyone flies Ryanair is beyond my comprehension. There are alternatives on most routes.
19:52 August 17, 2012 by 2ct
I am no fan of Ryan Air - the airline smells of stuff more suited to a farmers shovel during spring time, however the above story misses important points...

They had been diverted from Madrid due to bad weather, and had been circling above Valencia for about an hour. The pilots had been asked to circle above Valencia because thunderstorms in Madrid prevented them form landing there as planned on July 26. They were asked to join a queue, but were given priority when the pilots contacted air traffic control. Although they were technically called "emergency landings", the planes were following procedure and passengers were not in danger.

After 50 minutes, 68 minutes and 69 minutes respectively, the pilots had asked to land as they were reaching their reserve fuel levels.

source: h**p://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19267153

I think its acceptable that had everything gone as expected, they would have landed with about 90minutes of fuel...
20:37 August 17, 2012 by DinhoPilot
@ wood artistis & everyone

30 mins of reserve fuel is acceptable industry standard (or 45 mins). The fuel is calculated based on a determined aircraft taxiing (aircraft movements on ground), APU run time, climb, cruise (with headwind), descent.

Off course if there isn't any airport within 30 mins the reserve is bigger. Not only Ryanair does that as Lufthansa or any major airline with difference that other might be a bit more generous.

On an atlantic flight regardless of the route an airplane is required to reach any airport, but Ryanair doesn't do what would be called Atlantic flights.
23:28 August 17, 2012 by FlyWest
@2ct: They did not "circle above Valencia for an hour". This information is incorrect. They declared emergency 50, 68 and 69 minutes after the time they were expected to land IN MADRID! The distance between Madrid and Valencia is about one hour. That means they had almost NO fuel additionally to the required minimum they have to carry according the law.

They arrived in Madrid, had to decide quick wether to stay there and use their fuel intended to fly to their Alternate Valencia, which is allowed if they KNOW that Madrid will be open in time (it is a gamble!) or they HAD TO divert before their fuel was reduced below the needed diversion fuel plus 30 minutes. These are the legal requirements. They decided to divert, obviously, used up their diversion fuel to get to Valencia and then barely had their 30 minutes. Once you get below that amount, it is MANDATORY to call MAYDAY because it is a critical situation with imminent danger to the live of the passangers. With these low fuel values (about 1200 kg) having some uncertainty in the measuring system of up to 350 kg, you have to execute abnormal procedures given by the manufacturer. If you would required to fly a go around you have to be careful that you don't pull up the nose as high as usual, don't accelerate the engines as quick as usual, to avoid the fuel in the tanks to flow to far backwards and dry dry up the feeding channel to the engines, otherwise they might just stop and it will be the end of the flight very soon!
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