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Ryanair sacks pilot for questioning safety on TV

Ryanair planes are seen parked at Girona airport, September 20, 2012. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Ryanair planes are seen parked at Girona airport, September 20, 2012. REUTERS/Albert Gea

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ryanair has fired one of its senior pilots and is preparing legal action against him for questioning the airline's safety record in a television interview, the company said on Thursday.

Europe's largest budget carrier by passengers, Ryanair has in recent weeks rejected accusations from pilots that it encourages crew to carry less back-up fuel and that disciplinary threats discourage the reporting of safety concerns.

Ryanair said it had fired veteran pilot John Goss for his "defamatory contributions" in a documentary about the airline's safety culture broadcast this week on Britain's Channel 4.

In the program, Goss said he received a critical letter for using too much fuel and said many Ryanair pilots did not have confidence in the safety reporting systems of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

The IAA said all confidential reports are fully investigated and its oversight of Ryanair was comprehensive.

Ryanair says it has two confidential reporting systems in place.

"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," Ryanair said.

Ryanair, which the IAA says has a safety record that is on a par with the safest airlines in Europe, said it had instructed its lawyers to issue legal proceedings against Goss.

Goss does not plan to make any public comment on his dismissal until he receives further legal advice, said a spokesman for the Ryanair Pilot Group, which is advising him.

Goss has been involved in legal disputes with Ryanair management in the past over issues related to union representation for pilots.

(Corrects eighth paragraph to attribute safety record assessment to IAA, not Ryanair)

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Erica Billingham)