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Corporate cost cutting strategies - Phil's Rambling Rants
September 8th, 2010
01:34 pm

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Corporate cost cutting strategies
I was just listening to the BBC while driving back from an appointment, and I was profoundly struck by the irony of the juxtaposition of stories.

The first story was in response to BP's report that came out today of their own internal investigation, which is trying to put a good spin on the oil spill and to say how they're not the only ones to blame.  The story went into some depth about how it was a complicated chain of failures, not just one single mistake.

The second story was about how the head of Ryan Air wants to make air travel even cheaper by getting rid of copilots, because it's such a great way to save money.

I wonder if it's really a coincidence, or if some smart guy at the BBC was actually intentionally making a point of making Mr. Ryan Air look like a sleaze.

If you don't want to have major accidents like oil well blowouts or airliner crashes, you have to pay extra money as you go along for redundant systems and safety procedures.  Most of the time, those redundant systems will just be sitting there, and those safety procedures will make the job take longer.  But if you, running the company, decide to make this quarter's profits look better, you, your own personal self, are creating the disaster when it happens.  Are you, Mr. Ryan Air, going to walk out in front of the firing squad, refuse the blindfold, and yell a demand to the soldiers to aim carefully, after one of your copilotless planes goes down because the pilot had a stroke?  No?  Then shut the fuck up about how copilots are an unnecessary expense.

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From:guppiecat
Date:September 8th, 2010 06:46 pm (UTC)
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But, they are unnecessary.

In the movies if both pilots get knocked out, there's always someone on board who can land the plane.
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From:shockwave77598
Date:September 8th, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
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It IS possible to modify 757 and up aircraft so that they can be remotely pilotable in case of a) terrorist attack or b) incapacitated crew. But the airlines didn't want to do this -- too expensive. Certifying a new avionics system takes years and millions of dollars.
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From:shockwave77598
Date:September 8th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
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It does not matter what the CEO of Ryan Air wants because the requirement for a copilot is from the FAA. If he thinks he can tell the FAA what he will and won't do, then he's in for a surprise. Me, I'll pay a little extra to actually arrive with all my limbs attached and my heart beating, thanks. I'll also pay a little more for the airline to not nickle and dime me to death with fees and charges -- you want to sit down, oh, that's 50$ more.
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From:billroper
Date:September 8th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
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I have a lot less of a theoretic problem with Ryan Air wanting to eliminate co-pilots than I do with BP having decided to put "be stupid" in the first twelve positions on their list of ten things to do today.

If someone is willing to fly on an airline with no co-pilot, thereby betting, say, the 50 pounds (British airline) that he's saving against the unlikely-on-any-given-flight but statistically-certain-in-the-long-run possibility that we're going to lose the pilot in flight and kill everyone on board, I suppose they should be allowed to make that informed choice.

I just want to see the ad campaigns that the competition is going to put out in response. A Ryan Air flight crashing into the ground, full of screaming passengers after the pilot strokes out. Then the man awakes, being gently asked by a stewardess to put his seat in the upright and locked position, because we'll be landing shortly.

"British Airways. Because your safety shouldn't be optional."
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From:tigertoy
Date:September 8th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
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Problem is, it's exactly the same kind of thinking in both cases. BP didn't put "be stupid" on their to do list, they put "save money" on their list. When you push too hard to save money, you make people do stupid things -- only nobody identifies them as stupid until someone gets hurt.
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From:billroper
Date:September 9th, 2010 03:12 am (UTC)
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My father worked as a compliance officer for Peabody Coal way back when. His job was to get a mine into compliance with the safety regs. He could do it.

The problem was that when he left the mine to go to the next mine, people would slide back into the same old sloppy habits, because it was "easier" and the safety stuff wasn't really needed.

Until something went really wrong.

Trust me, a lot of these things are easily identified as stupid. :)
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From:tigertoy
Date:September 9th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
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The people actually working on the job will be just as faithful to their safety procedures than their bosses expect of them. The bosses' bosses, somewhere in an office, make decisions about how hard to push for the budget for safety equipment and paying for fully trained people, and they're answering to bosses who are ultimately looking at the bottom line. It comes down to whether they're looking at the bottom line in the long term, or (usually these days) just desperately trying to make this quarter look more profitable than the last one and not really worrying about what, by the odds, won't come along for several years.

It'll look stupid to the reporters and the accident investigators, but it probably didn't feel stupid to the people who physically handled the tools and equipment. What's missing is the bosses' bosses' bosses, making the policy decisions, facing any personal responsibility when their policies cause damage. The high level decision makers aren't stupid. They're very clever. They just don't have the right incentives.
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