Ryanair, the World’s Most Hated Airline, could be putting passengers at risk by restricting the amount of fuel they carry in an attempt to cut costs, according to an article in the Independent last week.
In a strongly worded report, Spanish safety investigators said that “market competition” was forcing airlines to carry less emergency fuel to improve competitiveness.
And they warned that air traffic controllers might not be able to cope if, due to bad weather or a closed a runway, they were faced with multiple planes trying to land with minimum fuel levels on board.
The official report into the Ryanair Flight RY9ZC on-route from Stansted to Alicante in Spain with 170 passengers on board in May 2010 reveals regulators’ concerns about the policy. It details how the 27-year-old Ryanair captain decided not to take on any additional fuel other than that calculated in his flight plan.
In fact, due to better than expected weather conditions and a lower than estimated take-off weight, the plane’s fuel consumption was 477kg less than had been predicted. But as the plane approached the airport it faced unexpectedly strong winds and was forced abandon two attempts to land.
At that point the captain, and his 22-year-old co-pilot, made a decision to divert to Valencia. But while approaching the airport, the crew had to declare a Mayday.
The plane landed safely but a measurement of fuel after landing showed it had just 956kg remaining, 183kg below the final fuel reserve of 1,139kg required as part of its total fuel on take off. If the plane had had predicted conditions on route it would have had only 15 minutes of flying time.
In its analysis of the incident, the Spanish Civil Aviation Accident and Incident Investigation Commission said it was concerned that if more airlines adopted Ryanair’s fuel strategy then safety could be compromised.
The report concluded that the cause of the incident was the crew’s “inadequate decision-making process”.
Read the full Independent article here: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/exclusive-safety-warning-as-budget-airlines-such-as-ryanair-cut-fuel-levels-for-flights-8749046.html