Ryanair has announced it would like to dispense with co-pilots on its short-haul flights. This is a curious idea, which O'Leary characteristically justifies with an inappropriate analogy - that train drivers don't have co-pilots but if one had a heart attack that would be dangerous too. “In 25 years with over about 10m flights, we’ve had one pilot who suffered a heart attack in flight and he landed the plane” he adds, and anyway “the computer does most of the flying now”.
So O'Leary thinks that we can do without redundancy. This would inevitably lead to more accidents, since humans make mistakes. And mistakes when you are flying a lump of metal at hundreds of miles an hour through crowded skies are probably worth avoiding. Of course, air travel is safe precisely because people insist - not entirely rationally - on higher standards of safety when flying than they do when driving a car or crossing the road. Maybe he's right that we could cope with higher levels of risk when flying, to save some money. After all, the logical extension of the low-cost strategy, when you dispense with free drinks and named seats, is to push on towards paying for toilets, standing passengers, and various other reductions in quality. So why not lower safety standards? (Maybe the passengers sitting in the centre of the plane could be asked to check whether the flaps are open to the correct setting?) After all, you're still highly likely to get out of the plane alive.
This could be the new frontier of low-cost air travel.