Ryanair has sacked one of its longest-serving pilots for revealing concerns about safety on the airline.
John Goss was dismissed with “immediate effect” and the airline issued legal proceedings against him after he appeared in a documentary that raised questions about Ryanair’s safety policy. The airline said that Captain Goss, who was with Ryanair for 27 years, had been dismissed for “gross misconduct”.
The low-cost carrier has instructed lawyers to take legal action against Channel 4’s Dispatches over allegations made in the documentary, Ryanair: Secrets from the Cockpit. Mr Goss was the only Ryanair pilot to appear in the programme, which reported three incidents in which pilots allegedly had to call in emergency alerts because they were low on fuel.
Ryanair said the incidents happened due to bad weather and the aircraft complied fully with EU regulations.
The programme also detailed a survey by the Ryanair Pilot Group that found safety concerns among 1,000 pilots and first officers.
It found 94 per cent wanted regulators to conduct an inquiry into the impact of employment practices on safety, while two-thirds were not comfortable raising issues through an internal system.
Ryanair has dismissed the survey as a “fabrication” and the pilots’ group as a front for pilots from rival airlines.
In a statement, the airline said: “Ryanair’s safety has been independently confirmed as being ‘on a par with the safest airlines in Europe’.
“We will not allow a Ryanair employee to defame our safety on national television just three weeks after he confirmed in writing to Ryanair that he had no concerns with safety and no reason to make any confidential safety report to either the Irish Aviation Authority or Ryanair.
“We look forward to correcting Mr Goss’s defamatory claims in court in due course, but will not be commenting further on this issue which is now the subject of legal proceedings.”
During the programme, Mr Goss, who was due to retire in October, said: “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 Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has said that it had always responded to personal letters and reports from Ryanair pilots, including face-to-face meetings.
Ireland’s 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 in the world.
However, French minister for transport Frédéric Cuvillier said he was concerned that Ryanair pilots felt inhibited in raising worries with the airlines about safety issues.
Ryanair said the documentary was an attempt to “wrongly impugn and smear Ryanair’s outstanding 29-year safety record based on nothing more than anonymous hearsay claims”.