I hope the moderators don't mind me posting this on here. If it's not appropriate, please feel free to delete it.

Paul Ridgard was a First Officer with Ryanair based in Liverpool, UK. As is the case with the vast majority of Ryanair First Officers, Paul was not employed directly by Ryanair, but instead was a contract pilot contracted to fly for Ryanair through their puppet agency, Brookfield. Brookfield pilots are paid only when they fly, with no monthly guarantee. They are considered self employed and thus have no paid vacation, no paid sick days, and no employment rights. There is no pension, no loss of license insurance, no flight benefits etc. All pilots joining Ryanair in the past eight years have been 'employed' through Brookfield.

Paul was enduring a number of personal issues including a divorce when his father died earlier this year. He requested time off (unpaid) for the funeral, but this was denied. With a 9 year old son at home, the death of his father and his impending divorce, things were really starting to get on top of Paul. He did not feel mentally fit to fly and requested a period of unpaid leave to get his head straight. Ryanair again denied his request.

Shortly after this Paul started his upgrade training. As he walked out to the aircraft for his final line check as a Captain he was told by the check airman that he had already been told to fail Paul as he had been highlighted as a 'trouble maker' by Ryanair. The check airman informed him that he would never be successful in gaining an upgrade at Ryanair. After the flight Paul returned home and took his own life.

Ryanair has a long history of bullying it's employees. The vast majority of First Officers are 'hired' with 200hrs. They are asked to pay nearly €30,000 ($50,000) for their 737 type rating. If successful on the course they are then presented with a Brookfield contract and hired via the agency to fly for Ryanair. Ryanair deliberately fails to honour basing requests and moves pilots around the network without any prior notice and entirely at the pilots' own cost.

Paul left behind a 9 year old son. REPA (Ryanair European Pilots Association), an organisation set up by Ryanair's pilots in order to gain union recognition, has set up the Paul Ridgard Fund to help out with Paul's son's education and upbringing. If you feel you could help, please visit http://www.repaweb.org/paul-ridgard-fund and give whatever you can afford.

No matter how much we may all complain about aspects of life at ExpressJet, it's events like this that remind us that we could be a lot worse off.