Irish government urged to probe allegations regarding Ryanair’s safety policy

The Irish government has been urged to investigate allegations made in a recent Channel 4 documentary about Ryanair’s safety policy.

According to Irish broadcaster, RTE, opposition party, Fianna Fail, has written to Ireland’s Oireachtas (parliamentary) Committee on Transport, seeking an inquiry into the claims.

The Channel 4 programme, Ryanair: Secrets from the Cockpit, included allegations of safety concerns among Ryanair pilots. Ryanair has rejected the claims and has issued proceedings against Channel 4 and the programme makers as well as a former pilot who featured in the documentary, and the Mail and Mirror newspapers.

Fianna Fail’s transport spokesman, Timmy Dooley, said: ‘This documentary raises important issues that require further investigation. It is in the public interest and the interests of the airline that we get to the bottom of what has been reported. I believe the airline could benefit from cooperating with an investigation to clear its name.

‘Ryanair is one of Ireland’s great business success stories. It is one of the largest and most recognisable brands in the world,’ Dooley said, adding: ‘Its reputation could be put at risk by the allegations in this documentary.’

Ryanair described the Channel 4 documentary as defamatory. Ryanair has rejected ‘the false and defamatory claims made by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, which wrongly impugn and smear Ryanair’s outstanding 29-year safety record based on nothing more than anonymous hearsay claims made by individuals whose identity was concealed, and/or by representatives of pilot unions of Ryanair’s competitor airlines masquerading as a non-Ryanair Pilot Group,’ it said.

‘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 IAA (Irish Aviation Authority) or Ryanair,’ the airline said after dismissing the pilot who was featured in the documentary.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: ‘We stand by our journalism and will robustly defend proceedings.’


Intrepid British tourists not easily deterred

According to a recent survey, it takes more than local unrest or even a serious incident or crime to deter British tourists from visiting their chosen holiday destination.

The survey, which was carried out by Holiday Extras, a UK-based on-line company that provides pre-booked UK airport hotels and parking, quizzed respondents on how they would respond to negative news emanating from their forthcoming holiday destination. The results showed that gung-ho Brits have no problem with prioritising their vacation over almost anything, including their own safety.

More than half of men questioned for the survey said that news of local difficulties in their destination country would not deter them from travelling, with only 34 percent saying that they would change their plans on news of a serious incident or crime.

While women erred a little more towards caution, 49 percent of them would still join their male counterparts in thumbing their nose at possible problems, and board their airplane on schedule.

Those Holiday Extras customers that said they would be deterred had varying views on how long a troubled destination should be avoided for, with 15 percent declaring 1 year, 43 percent saying 6 months, and 11 percent saying that they would be permanently put off.

Head of insurance at Holiday Extras, Andrea Clayton, said, ‘The results of this poll show how positive British people feel about their travels in the world – and this is a really good thing. Keep in mind, wherever you go on holiday and however daring you intend to be that you should always follow advice from the Foreign Office. Make sure that you have adequate travel insurance and don’t underestimate the cover that you may require wherever you go.’

The survey followed incidents of violence in Borneo.


Ryanair Claims Safety is behind One Bag Rule

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, has announced that its newest policy of allowing only one cabin bag per passenger is part of its safety policy.

In response to criticism from some MEP’s regarding its baggage allowances, the company has claimed that passengers routinely carry a cabin bag weighing 10kgs on its flights, and that practice means that the overhead bins are always full. One cabin bag weighing 10kgs is allowed free of charge for the airline’s passengers, although baggage that is checked in requires a payment.

The airline head of communications, Stephen McNamara, said, ‘The inaccurate claims made by some MEP’s yesterday that Ryanair’s free of charge carry-on bag policy was designed to ‘generate revenues’ were absurd and untrue. The purpose of Ryanair’s free of charge 10kgs carry-on bag is to allow passengers to avoid our checked in bag fees. 75 percent of Ryanair’s 80 million passengers now travel without paying any checked in bag fees, while availing of our 10kg free of charge carry-on bag facility. This reduces Ryanair’s revenues (and our costs).

Ryanair’s 1 carry-on bag rule cannot be changed for safety reasons. It would be helpful if these MEP’s made some basic attempt to understand Ryanair’s safety and low fare policies before making false and inaccurate claims in the European parliament.

The idea that Europe’s only ultra low fares airline, which has pioneered low fare travel and continues to promote free of charge carry-on bags (when other airlines are increasingly charging for carry-on bags) and lower prices than any other airline, is somehow an example of ‘capitalist greed’, is as absurd as some of these MEP’s claiming to care about consumers, while travelling on high fare airlines at the taxpayers’ expense. Ryanair’s 1 bag rule is a safety rule, not a revenue rule.’


Glasgow Airport Launches Latest Safety System for Air Traffic Control

Glasgow airport is the first airport in the world to install a new cutting edge safety enhancement technology developed by NATS, the UK based company that provides air traffic services and solutions.

The system uses NASA satellite data to create a three-dimensional map of the ground around Glasgow Airport, and uses it as a model to test unsafe altitudes. The technology will allow air traffic controllers to test flight paths with perfect accuracy, while maintaining a safe distance from the ground.

NATS senior systems engineer, Andrew Wood, said, ‘This is the first system in the UK to use 3D terrain mapping in a live operational environment.

The new system is the most accurate in the world. It brings improved safety for aircraft and passengers and will give controllers even greater confidence.

The system has been verified to trigger when aircraft are either entering a dangerous rate of descent or are in close proximity to the ground.

We had to ensure that the alerts being raised were valid, as well as proving that no aircraft in danger were failing to trigger alerts.’

The successful launch of the programme will have assured the expansion of the technology to other airports in the UK.

NATS engineering director, Iain Harris, said, ‘This project has been developed in-house by NATS from the ground up and is a prime example of our ability to innovate for enhanced safety performance.’

The current project is a result of joint efforts between NATS and the Safety Regulation Group of the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).


Holiday Balcony Deaths Trigger Safety Campaign

A recent increase in the number of holidaymakers falling from hotel balconies has resulted in the launch of a safety campaign.

Risks taken by holidaymakers on hotel balconies, especially those holidaymakers in the younger age group, have led to three individuals falling to their deaths during this holiday season, and ten others suffering serious injuries. These accidents have prompted The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to team up with travel association, ABTA, to publicise a health and safety message in an attempt to curb irresponsible behaviour.

Leaflets are to be handed to young people travelling out to resorts, pointing out the dangers of hotel balconies and highlighting the story of 18-year-old Jake Evans who fell from a seventh floor balcony while on holiday last year. Despite a sun lounger breaking his fall, he suffered multiple injuries including a fractured skull and wrist, smashed teeth and leg and back damage. He had been leaning over a balcony while drunk, in an attempt to catch a cigarette lighter that had been tossed to him by a friend.

Reasons for the falls have not always been obvious, as in the case of 28-year-old Benjamin Harper who fell to his death in April after going on to a balcony for a cigarette, but among the most avoidable incidents have been individuals climbing on to a neighbouring balcony and others jumping from the balcony into a swimming pool.

An FCO spokesman commented that most of the incidents involved 18 to 35-year-olds, and that alcohol was often a contributory factor.


Cruise Industry Implements New Safety Policies

Passengers are set to benefit from two new safety policies announced recently by the European Cruise Council, an industry association for cruise companies operating in Europe.

The European Cruise Council (ECC) and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) have announced two new safety policies at the request of governments across the world, which will address the recording of passenger nationalities and the issuing of emergency instructions.

Christine Duffy, the president and chief executive officer of CLIA, said, ‘Our industry continues to actively identify a range of measures that will improve the safety of passengers and crew, which is the top priority of the cruise industry.

Ongoing innovation in safety has been a hallmark of our industry for decades and we are fully committed to continuous improvement in shipboard operations and safety. We are taking a holistic look at safety as has been evidenced by the breadth and scope of the numerous policies that have been developed and adopted as part of the Review since its launch earlier this year.’

The Nationality of Passengers policy will include the recording of the nationality of each passenger onboard, while the Common Elements of Musters and Emergency Instructions policy, will specify 12 common elements to be communicated to passengers during emergencies and routine muster procedures.

The chairman of the European Cruise Council, Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, said, ‘These new safety policies are representative of the industry’s commitment to raising standards across the global fleet and of our willingness to listen and act on good ideas brought forward by other interested stakeholders. Establishing common elements of a muster policy will provide our guests with the confidence that they are receiving the same key safety messages no matter which ship they cruise. Providing additional information on passengers’ nationality is a direct and immediate response to a good idea and, as with our other voluntary commitment, is applicable with immediate effect.’


London 2012 Olympic Games to Use New Technology for Passenger Safety in Public Vehicles

Alexander Dennis (ADL), a bus and coach manufacturer in the UK, and the company responsible for providing public service vehicles for the 2012 Olympic Games, will be using new machine-to-machine technology to improve passenger safety.

The company is partnering with Traffilog, a web-based telematics company, to provide the maximum levels of security and safety for passengers using its fleet of buses.

The Traffilog machine-to-machine solution will also be providing safety and security on the fleet of buses to be operated by Kings Ferry, a UK coach operator with the responsibility for the transportation of police and VIPs during the Games.

The M2M devices feature the GE863-GPS advanced cellular modules, provided by Telit Wireless Solutions, transmitting real-time driver and mechanical performance information to fleet management centres, and allowing authorities to operate the fleet remotely, in case of emergencies.

Yoav Megged, the executive vice president at Traffilog, said, ‘Telit’s GE863-GPS module is a mission-critical component of our application because of its high reliability, ruggedness and quality performance. That’s why we rely on Telit modules for a large percentage of our systems worldwide.’

Dominikus Hierl, the chief marketing officer at Telit Wireless Solutions, said, ‘Traffilog’s application for the Olympic Games proves once again the growing significance of M2M technology and its combined benefits, specifically in the realm of public safety and personal security.’

Safety will be of paramount importance during the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics Games to be held in July and August 2012, and travellers to the city and Olympics venues are asked to comply with the stringent safety policies that are currently being put in place for a safe Games.

European Cruise Council Announces Three New Cruise Safety Policies

Passengers will be protected by new safety features while on luxury cruises, according to the European Cruise Council, an industry association for cruise companies operating in Europe.

In an announcement highlighting new safety policies for cruise passengers, Manfredi Lefebvre, chairman of the European Cruise Council (ECC) and member of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Executive Committee, said, ‘We are convinced that this approach will achieve concrete, practical and significant safety dividends in the shortest possible time and fully reflects the measured and responsible progress on future safety initiatives by both the Commission and European Parliament following the Concordia tragedy.’

The three new policies, adopted by both ECC and CLIA, a US-based association of cruise lines, are related to issues including passage planning, and personnel access to the bridge and lifejackets. The policies will be submitted to the United Nation International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for its approval in May 2012.

Lefebvre said, ‘The cruise industry is highly regulated and it is this regulatory regime, complied with onboard by our professional and committed officers and crews that has given the cruise industry a truly remarkable safety record. But as the Concordia incident demonstrates, there is no such thing as perfect safety. We do strive for a perfect commitment to safety. And as part of our commitment to a safety culture, the industry – both individually as cruise lines and collectively through CLIA and the ECC – beginning January 27 launched an Operational Safety Review to learn the lessons from Concordia and to conduct a top to bottom safety review.’

2011 revealed to be safest year for air travel

With just two weeks left of 2011, figures have shown the year to be the safest for air travel since records began.


A study by the International Transport Association (IATA) has revealed the number of fatal air crashes fell from 23 in 2010 to 22 this year, as a result the number of deaths have dropped significantly.


Last year 786 passengers and airline crew members were killed in air accidents, however the figure dropped to 486 this year.


Gunther Matschnigg, senior vice president for the safety, operations and infrastructure at IATA said: “As of the end of November, global safety performance is at the best level recorded, and is 49 per cent better than the same time last year”.


Figures for the IATA date back to as far as 1945, when the collation of records began.


European flying has been exceptionally safe this year, as no fatal crashes have occurred on European soil so far this year.


North Asia is the only global region to have an unblemished year.


Accident rates have dropped in every region of the world, apart from the CIS (the Commonwealth of Independent States – Russia and the former Soviet republics), where records show 1.39 crashes per million take-offs have occurred.


However in 2010 the region reported a crash-free year.


In 2011, the global accident rate stands at 2.16 crashes per million take-offs.


According to statistics Africa remains the most dangerous continent in which to fly. This year, the accident rate for the country stands at 3.93 crashes per million take-offs, however this is an improvement when compared to last years figure of 8.26.


Until the 30th November, Africa had held an unblemished fatality record.


Mr Matschnigg added: “Overall, African performance is 52 per cent better, that is a great achievement”.


Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

First-Ever Panic Button For British Business Travellers Launched

Emergency response specialist Skyguard has today launched the first-ever personal emergency service for British business travellers.

Skyguard International gives business executives abroad the power to summon help at the press of a button if they find themselves in trouble overseas. Initially the service is live across 34 European countries, the Russian Federation and South Africa.

The launch comes hot on the heels of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s British Behaviour Abroad report, which revealed 19,228 Brits have needed assistance overseas during the past 12 months, with Spain producing the most incidents.

Travellers can activate the emergency Skyguard International service using a device the size of a key-fob and the smallest GPS alarm of its kind, which can be discreetly attached to keys, a belt or worn on a lanyard. Skyguard’s service also runs as an app on a BlackBerry, with the handset’s convenience side key acting as the alarm button.

Alarms containing the user’s location and identity go directly to Skyguard’s Incident Management Centre in the UK, where trained controllers can listen in, talk if it’s safe to do so and co-ordinate a timely response by summoning the national emergency services of the country in question, and contacting the victim’s relatives or employers. Skyguard customers can provide detailed personal information through an online portal, such as medical conditions, medications taken and even a photo, which can be passed to the emergency services, often proving live-saving.

Skyguard, which launched in 2000, already offers a similar service nationally in the UK, used by thousands of companies and individuals, and more than half of the UK’s police forces to protect the most vulnerable in society.

Said James Murray, chief executive of Skyguard: “We believe we’ve created the ultimate peace of mind solution for travellers.

“I travel frequently, often with my family, to countries where I’m not familiar with the language or destination. I wondered what I would do if we ended up in a difficult situation that required immediate emergency assistance. That’s why we developed Skyguard International – to give travellers peace of mind, knowing their location is exactly pinpointed and they can communicate immediately in English.

“After years of successfully managing hundreds of life-threatening situations affecting individuals at risk in the UK, we’re excited to be the first company in the world to offer an overseas service with this level of coverage. Initially we’ve got nearly all of Europe covered, together with Russia and South Africa, and we look forward to adding further countries in the months ahead.

“When we receive an alarm we can immediately locate the person using advanced GPS technology and can then quickly assess their needs. Our trained staff can communicate with the individual via their device or Blackberry, or not make direct contact if the situation so dictates.

“We can alert local police, paramedics or fire units to be with our customers as soon as possible.”

Skyguard International is available to existing Skyguard customers as an additional service.

“The service also works across borders so business travellers will have back-up and cover every step of their journey,” added Murray.

Skyguard International is available from £29.95 a month*. To find out more visit or

* Skyguard International is available as an £18.00 per month add-on to Skyguard’s standard UK service, which starts at £11.95 a month based on a three-year contract. Shorter term contracts are also available.