I’m All for Cutting Costs But This Seems Like a Not So Great Idea

(NEWSER) – Co-pilots? We don’t need no stinking co-pilots. And it would certainly be cheaper to fly without them, so that’s what Ryanair CEO (and infamous cost-cutter) Michael O’Leary intends to do—or at least try to do. O’Leary, whose company has already rolled out the genius ideas of charging passengers to pee and offering standing-room-only tickets, tells the Financial Times he’s asking aviation authorities for permission to operate short flights with only one pilot aboard, and replace the second-in-command with … flight attendants.

After all, “the computer does most of the flying now,” he reasons. “In 25 years, we’ve had one pilot who suffered a heart attack in flight and he landed the plane.” His plan “would save the entire industry a fortune.” If he succeeds, O’Leary will place extra flight attendants on shorter flights to perform the co-pilot’s job of making sure “the first fella doesn’t fall asleep and knock over one of the computer controls,” he said.

I’m no expert in the world of airline efficiency but it seems to me like there must be a hundred different places to cut costs before you start eliminating co-pilots from the flight plan.

How about fewer flight attendants?

How about sinking some resources into mechanizing baggage handling?

How about developing alternatives to the incredibly expensive jet fuel?

I realize that in the grand scheme of airplane safety the co-pilot might be substantially less important that I imagine him to be, but at the same time, you can’t tell me that the ridiculously high cost of air travel can be drastically reduced by eliminating one of the two people tasked with keeping the plane in the air.

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