Aviation watchdog accuses Channel 4 of ‘misguided attack’
Irish Aviation Authority says programme used ‘false and misleading information’
Michael O’Leary today said that airline Ryanair does not have a policy of deleting cockpit voice recordings. Photograph: Dave Meehan
The IAA said last night’s Dispatches programme was “based upon false and misleading information” which could undermine the confidence of air passengers.
Ryanair has said it will sue the programme-makers for its “false and defamatory” investigation into its safety policy.
A Channel 4 spokesman responded: “We stand by our journalism, and will robustly defend proceedings if they are initiated.”
The programme included a comment from serving Ryanair pilot Captain John Goss who said Ryanair pilots had reported incidents to aviation authorities, but had not heard back, a claim the IAA denies.
He added: “My personal belief is that the majority of Ryanair pilots do not have confidence in the safety agencies and that is a pretty critical issue.”
The IAA replied to this claim this morning by stating: “The IAA has responded to personal letters and reports from Ryanair pilots, this included several meetings and face-to-face interviews with pilots and their legal and professional representatives.
“The fact that the outcome of an investigation or analysis does not concur with the views of the persons concerned does not alter the fact that they were investigated in full.
“The IAA conducts a comprehensive oversight and surveillance programme of all Irish airlines and Ryanair Plc fully complies with all European and international regulations in all areas of its operations.”
The Department of Transport expressed confidence in the IAA’s regulation of Ryanair and said Irish airline and aviation standards were on a par with the best regulatory standards anywhere in the world.
In a statement, the department added: “The IAA has advised the department that Ryanair’s fuel policy fully complies with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations and it is regularly monitored by the IAA as part of its normal safety oversight activities”.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the airline plans to sue Channel 4 over claims that its pilots have serious misgivings about its safety policies.
The programme, Secrets of the Cockpit, which was aired last night, alleged that Ryanair pilots felt under pressure to save fuel and did not feel there was an open and transparent safety culture within the airline.
O’Leary accused the Ryanair Pilot Group (RPG) of being motivated by the “same industrial relations agenda” which has been present for the last 25 years which is to get union recognition within Ryanair.
The programme interviewed four Ryanair pilots, three anonymously, who raised the issue of being pressured to carry less fuel.