The boss of the budget airline Ryanair has called for co-pilots to be removed from the flight deck to save money and suggested that air stewardesses could land planes in an emergency.
Michael O'Leary claimed that air stewardesses could instead be trained to land an aircraft in the event of an emergency.
In an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine, Mr O’Leary, who has previously suggested that planes could fly with “standing-only” areas for passengers, said: “Why does every plane
have two pilots?
“Really, you only need one pilot. Let’s take out the second pilot. Let the b----- computer fly it.”
When asked what would happen if the single pilot fell ill while flying a plane, he said: “If the pilot has an emergency, he rings the bell, he calls her in. She could take over.”
The idea has been ridiculed by pilots, who questioned Mr O’Leary’s commitment to passenger safety.
Patrick Smith, an experienced pilot, described the idea as “beyond preposterous”.
He added: “Even in routine operations it’s important to have a second person there.”
Jim McAuslan, the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association, said: “Are there no lengths to which he will not go to get publicity?
“His suggestion is unwise, unsafe and the public will be horrified.”
Mr O’Leary also previously raised the idea of charging passengers to use the aircraft lavatories.
Earlier this year, he introduced an extra baggage charge during the summer holiday season, which vastly increased the cost of checking in luggage for a journey.
Kate Hanni, the founder of FlyersRights.org, a passenger campaign group, said: “He insults the dignity of the flying public every time he opens his mouth.”