A Ryanair flight from Tenerife to East Midlands Airport was forced to make an emergency landing on Thursday evening after a crew member became seriously ill. It was later revealed that the first officer had been ‘incapable’, prompting the aircraft to stop on the runway so that paramedics could immediately board the aircraft and begin to attend to. of the pilot.
Ryanair flight FR3153 took off from the Canary Islands around 6:12 p.m. Thursday without incident, but was forced to declare an emergency as it passed over the English Channel shortly before its scheduled arrival.
The Boeing 737 stopped on the runway after landing and the runway was closed to inbound flights which were forced to divert to Manchester Airport as medical staff responded to the incident.
It was not immediately clear why the first officer was incapacitated or what his current condition was.
In 2010, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary scorned the first officer or co-pilot‘s purpose, saying they were unnecessary and were widely used to ensure the captain did not fall asleep.
“In 25 years with over 10 million flights, we had a pilot who had a heart attack in flight and he landed the plane,” O’Leary told the Financial Times at the time.
His comments sparked a fierce backlash from pilot unions and consumer groups, but a spokesperson for Ryanair said the airline was “just entering the debate so we can look to cut costs without compromising security”.
“Given the sophistication of our planes, we believe that a pilot in command can operate safely on short trips and reduce fares for all passengers,” a statement from the carrier continued.
While Ryanair has not tried to get rid of the first officer in the 10 years since these comments, the aircraft manufacturer Airbus is actively developing a system for single-pilot operations on long-haul flights.
The secret project, which was named “Connect,” would see a single pilot on the flight deck for most of the time an aircraft is in the high altitude cruise phase of flight. The other pilot would rest and both pilots would be on the flight deck for takeoff and landing.
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific is said to be in talks with Airbus about deploying the system on its A350 aircraft, although German airline Lufthansa has distanced itself from the project due to various security concerns.
In 2018, Ryanair’s O’Leary believed that completely unmanned planes could emerge within the next 40 years.
Register for the cabin crew briefing
Receive the latest Cabin Crew Recruitment news delivered to your inbox once a week …