Last updated: 10:32 AM ET, Fri March 27 2015

Airlines Rush To Change Cockpit Rules After Germanwings Crash

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | March 27, 2015

Airlines Rush To Change Cockpit Rules After Germanwings Crash

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The international aviation community has reacted swiftly to the tragedy involving the Germanwings crash earlier this week, and has begun to change policies to require two people in the cockpit at all times.

The latest revelation in airline security came when French prosecutors on Thursday said the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 intentionally and deliberately brought down the plane after locking the captain out of the cockpit.

“At this moment, in light of investigation, the interpretation we can give at this time is that the co­pilot through voluntary abstention refused to open the door of the cockpit to the commander, and activated the button that commands the loss of altitude,” prosecutor Brice Robin said.

The conclusion was based on the audio from the recovered cockpit voice recorder after the Airbus A320, en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, crashed in the French Alps. All 150 on board were killed. The co-pilot was identified as Andreas Lubitz, who locked the captain out of the flight deck when the pilot got up to presumably use the bathroom.

On Thursday, the German Aviation Association announced that all German carriers – including Germanwings and its parent company, Lufthansa – had agreed to new protocols that require two people in a plane's cockpit at all times. International carriers including including Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, EasyJet, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook, and Icelandair all announced similar procedures.

A Monarch spokesman told the BBC, "The revised protocol is now mandatory for all Monarch passenger flights. In addition to this change, we will continue to carry out our 'eyes-on' checks where cabin crew regularly enter the flight deck during the cruising phase of the flight to check on the Pilot and the First Officer. "

The Canadian government didn’t even wait for the airlines to adopt new policies; it issued the decree on Thursday requiring two crew members to be on the flight deck at all times.

A Virgin spokeswoman told the BBC: "We always ensure we have the highest safety standards and, while it is our common practice to have two members of our crew in the flight deck at all times, in light of recent events we are now in the process of formalizing this to be policy.”

The Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. already requires two crew members to be in the cockpit at all times, which is why quite often if you see the captain or first officer leave the flight deck to use the bathroom, one flight attendant will enter the cockpit and another will stand in the aisle to prevent any passengers from loitering outside the lavatory until the pilot has returned to the flight deck.


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