Please sign in to post.

Ryan Air floats eliminating co-pilots, what else could they do?

If standing seats and pay toilets weren't enough to grab a little publicity, now Michael O'Leary is floating the idea of eliminating co-pilots. He says the computer can fly the plane, and a flight attendent could be trained to land it in an emergency. I wonder if Chesley Sullenberger would fly on a plane with only one pilot, I know I would not. What do the rest of you think? Would you fly on a plane with only one pilot just to save a few dollars?

Posted by
839 posts

I think I would rather pay double what RyanAir charges to fly with two pilots.

Posted by
4637 posts

I am not taking it seriously at all. They have an agency, something like our FAA and I am sure it will not allow it. Next step could be to fly it by a volunteer pilot for free.

Posted by
100 posts

If you've ever flown in a small turboprop air taxi or shuttle you may already have flown in a single pilot commercial aircraft...many of them are certified for single pilot operation and the pilot workload poses no safety issues. But for Michael O'Leary to insinuate that he can eliminate a pilot on a jet aircraft...total blarney.

Posted by
31319 posts

I heard about this newest RyanAir initiative on one of the news channels the other day. Jay Leno also mentioned it in his monologue last night. It sounds like a dumb idea and hopefully they're not serious about it. The E.U. may also have something to say about jet aircraft flying across the Europe with only one Pilot. The Pilot workload isn't the only issue, and I suspect safety will cause this stupid idea to be dismissed quickly. Even the small DH-3 Turboprop aircraft that I often use ALWAYS have two Pilots, even on short flights. This is another reason I prefer not to fly RyanAir unless it's absolutely necessary. Cheers!

Posted by
278 posts

I thought about this a little more, and realized that by combining a few of Ryan Air's quirky ideas, one could develop a new airline, Double Decker Airlines. You could have people standing in the middle of the plane, like on a bus; you could have differential pricing for seats down in the baggage hold, where you literally pay less because you have to hold the baggage that others paid to put down there; you could board through the back door and the flight attendent could collect money for use of the stairs and use one of those old bus conductor coin change things on their belt; this of course could be used to make change for the bathroom, which of course would require an exchange fee to be charged for the service; and if you only have one pilot, he/she could stand in the cockpit and fly the plane kind of like a milkman used to stand driving the milk truck; and, of course sliding front doors to leave open for air circulation just like on a milk, mail, or UPS truck would ensure that fuel was not wasted with climate control. Really the possibilities are endless.

Posted by
8960 posts

I'm in a glass half-empty mood today:) I realize the Ryanair chief said it all for publicity, but the cynic in me sees this as the the groundwork being laid....the idea of the pilotless plane being planted in our heads in order to gain acceptance a couple of decades from now;) I have no problems with driverless trains at ground level, but metal cans floating in the air at 30,000 feet......pass the kool aid!

Posted by
8960 posts

Just out of curiosity...is it technically possible for the autopilot system to land a 737 type aircraft without human intervention? Has the technology advanced that much? Has it ever been done?

Posted by
9110 posts

Since a Mode 1 ACLS will get a flying machine on a boat hands-off, there must be something in the civilian sector that could do it for a big Boeing. Observation for the first few tries would probably be best through long lenses.

Posted by
10280 posts

Michael, the newer model airlines have the technology to land by themselves. However, the airport also has to have the system. Not all of them do. And...someone has to program the computer on board to do this....The other option is to do what the military does with unmanned drones. The pilot is on the ground. Eventually, we may have a system where in case of emergency, a pilot on the ground could take over control of an airliner in flight. The downside is that the technology could be hacked and terrorists could do the same.....If they wanted to, a pilot could program the flight director to take off, fly to their destination, and land, without touching him touching any of the controls. Pilots usually take off and land manually because those are the two most dangerous parts of the flight and they want to stay proficient in both procedures.

Posted by
8960 posts

Thanks for the info....how depressing....if the pilot of a zillion ton aircraft can be replaced by a computer, there's no hope for the rest of us:(

Posted by
11450 posts

I would not fly on such an airline. I personally have flown a few lo cost inter Europeon airlines( Air Berliner,Tuifly, Vueling,), and I looked up safety records, and information about where they get their planes. I actually chose to fly from Paris to Rome on Vueling just because they buy their planes new, ,and do not buy old airplanes that have been sold by larger airlines, and then "reconditioned".. Thats just me.. I am a nervous flyer, and I realize there are NO guarantees, but I am not flying on cheapest airline no matter what,, when they cut so many corners you really better start thinking.. What do they pay their mechanics, do they have enough on staff to do regulation inspections, do the staff like their jobs and feel properly rewarded etc..

Posted by
10280 posts

Michael, remember, this is Ryan Air we're talking about. After his one pilot statement, the head of the EU's version of the FAA said the head of Ryan Air will say anything for publicity. There are no plans for the U.S., Canada or the EU to allow only one pilot on larger aircraft....The computer is there as a backup and to aid in the flying of the aircraft. What most people don't realize is that in most cases, from a few minutes after takeoff and until the descent has started, the airplane is being flown by computer. If a change needs to be made, the controls are not touched. The computer is reprogrammed.....While I don't think we'll see pilotless aircraft anytime soon, remember that most trains taking people from terminal to terminal in larger airports, as well as the DLR in London, are driverless. They are run by computer.

Posted by
278 posts

My point in making this post was not to get people to ask for the Kool-Aid, but more to point out the almost insane quest for publicity with out regard to the perception the majority, those who find the human factor to be a necessity even if only as a window dressing. In other words, we don't care if a computer flies the plane as long as we know that a human with the proper qualifications is there also, just in case. Michael, don't forget when you ask for the Kool-Aid, Michael O'Leary will charge you for it, and then again to redeposit it onboard.

Posted by
111 posts

Before you know it Ryanair will be flying unmanned drones.

Posted by
4365 posts

As we speak, Michael O'Leary is trying to figure out a way to get people to pay HIM for a ticket that actually puts them on a TRAIN...perhaps a 'RyanRails' shuttle bus to the nearest (or NOT nearest LOL!) train station...

Posted by
11798 posts

This would free up another seat. How much extra would you pay to sit with the best view in the plane or, as Bush would say, "a little stick time." :)

Posted by
990 posts

O'Leary is one clever guy as far as getting media attention for his airline. His m.o. is to announce that Ryan Air is thinking about some new outrageous way to save money[INVALID]pay toilets, taking out seats and having standing room, eliminating co-pilots, or whatever. And presto, dozens of articles where people are talking about Ryan Air! No matter whether these schemes are practical or even legal. The point is, they get people to talk about and notice his airline. Here's my prediction[INVALID]his next stunt will be to announce metered oxygen masks. "In the event of sudden cabin pressure loss, please drop a 1 pound coin in the slot and an oxygen mask will drop down. Oxygen will flow until you hear a beep. Then please put another coin in the slot." You heard it here first!

Posted by
10344 posts

Re Michael's question: My understanding is that the more advanced Boeings and Airbuses have a computer-based Autoland system that can land the aircraft pilot hands off in marginal weather at big airports with the right ground equipment. But surprising to some, there's no comparable computer system for automating the Takeoff of a commercial airliner. As a private pilot, at first I found this surprising, since student pilots generally master takeoffs well before landings.

Posted by
9110 posts

Even the most rudimentary autopilot will handle a take-off: engage heading hold, disengage altitude hold, cob the engine/s, raise the wheels when the rattling stops....... The problem exists when you've pulled this stunt in really crappy weather and you don't have the ceiling and visibility to turn around and land when things turn to worms right after you're airborne....... I have no personal experience, just a combination something I googled and heard the big boys talking about in the locker room.

Posted by
10344 posts

Yes, but I was referring to systems approved by the FAA for use in passenger aircraft. Is there a hands off Auto-takeoff computer system approved by the FAA for use in Boeings or Airbuses?

Posted by
4365 posts

What a bunch of chickens! Live a little - get that adrenaline going! Two pilots, one pilot, no pilot - life's an adventure LOL! ;-)

Posted by
10344 posts

Bad idea, getting rid of the co-pilot. Bad for pilot morale. Pilots hate to drink alone.

Posted by
10280 posts

Kent, the flight directors on today's commercial airliners could technically be programmed for automatic take off. But why would a pilot want to do that? Bad weather? Stay on the ground. It's one thing when you're already aloft and you hit a patch of weather. Then a Cat III aircraft is great. But, I wouldn't use it for takeoff. I once took off, went up to about 500 feet AGL, lost the engine, then turned around and landed on the same runway but in the opposite direction from which I took off. It was scary. Luckily, it was also a planned training exercise so I was expecting it.

Posted by
446 posts

I couldn't agree more with Patrick Smith's latest column in Salon. O'Leary's proposal is idiotic. Training a flight attendant as a backup co-pilot? Insane.