1. Germanwings Airbus A320 plane crash: Airlines rush to change rules

Germanwings Airbus A320 plane crash: Airlines rush to change rules

In the wake of the Germanwings Airbus A320 plane crash, airlines rushed on Thursday to change their rules so as to require a second crew member...

By: | Berlin/paris | Updated: March 27, 2015 8:48 AM
A person covered with a black blanket is led by police officers from the hours of the family of Andreas Lubitz to a police van in Montabaur, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2015. Lubitz was the copilot on flight Germanwings 9525 that crashed with 150 people on board on Tuesday in the French Alps. (AP)

A person covered with a black blanket is led by police officers from the hours of the family of Andreas Lubitz to a police van in Montabaur, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2015. Lubitz was the copilot on flight Germanwings 9525 that crashed with 150 people on board on Tuesday in the French Alps. (AP)

In the wake of the Germanwings Airbus A320 plane crash, airlines rushed on Thursday to change their rules so as to require a second crew member in the cockpit at all times, hours after French prosecutors suggested a co-pilot who barricaded himself alone at the controls of a jetliner had crashed it on purpose.

The United States already requires two crew members to be in the cabin at all times, but many other countries do not, allowing pilots to leave the flight deck, for example to use the toilet, as long as one pilot is at the controls.

That is precisely what French prosecutors suspect happened on the Germanwings flight on Tuesday. They say Andreas Lubitz, 27, locked the captain out and appears to have set the controls to crash into a mountain, killing all 150 people on board.

Germanwings, Germanwings plane crash, Airbus crash, airbus plane crash, Airbus A320 crash, Andreas Lubitz, France, France plane crash, world news

German police officers stand in front of the house believed to belong to the parents of crashed Germanwings flight 4U 9524 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz in Montabaur, March 26, 2015. A young German co-pilot locked himself in the cockpit of Germanwings flight 9525 and flew it into a mountain, killing all 150 people on board including himself, prosecutors said on Thursday. After listening to “black box” voice recordings, French prosecutors left no doubt that they believe 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz was in control of the Airbus A320 and set it on its fatal descent. They offered no explanation for his motive. Prosecutors in the German city of Duesseldorf said police were searching his home for evidence. REUTERS

Airlines including Norwegian Air Shuttle, Britain’s easyJet, Air Canada, Air New Zealand  and Air Berlin all said within hours that they had introduced a requirement that two crew members be in the cockpit at all times.

Canada said it would immediately impose such a rule on all its airlines while those that already had such rules in place,  including Ryanair, rushed to reassure customers.

Among the companies that did not announce such a policy change was Germanwings parent Lufthansa, whose CEO Carsten Spohr said he believed it was unnecessary.

Germanwings, Germanwings plane crash, Airbus crash, airbus plane crash, Airbus A320 crash, Andreas Lubitz, France, France plane crash, world news

A police officer stands in front of an apartment building where they believe Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of the crashed Germanwings airliner jet, lived in Duesseldorf, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2015, during an investigation into the crash in the French Alps on Tuesday that killed 150 people. Lubitz barricaded himself in the cockpit and “intentionally” sent the plane full speed into a mountain, ignoring the pilot’s frantic pounding on the door and the screams of terror from passengers, a prosecutor said Thursday. (AP)

“I don’t see any need to change our procedures here,” Spohr told journalists. “It was a one-off case. But we will look at it with the various experts at Lufthansa and the authorities. We shouldn’t lose ourselves in short-term measures.”

His comments drew criticism on Twitter, with some people demanding the airline introduce the two person-rule.

I’M FLYING WITH YOU

“@lufthansa will you insist on having 2 crew in the cockpit at all times from today? I’m flying with you this weekend…,” asked Twitter user @kazababes.

Later on Thursday Spohr told German broadcaster ARD that Lufthansa would sit down with other German carriers and the country’s aviation authority on Friday to discuss the matter.

“We will see whether there are measures that can be taken quickly to further improve safety,” he said.

Germanwings, Germanwings plane crash, Airbus crash, airbus plane crash, Airbus A320 crash, Andreas Lubitz, France, France plane crash, world news

A Lufthansa light aircraft trainer taxis for takeoff at the Airline Training Center Arizona (ATCA) in Goodyear, Arizona March 26, 2015. U.S. media on Thursday reported that Andreas Lubitz, a young German co-pilot who locked himself in the cockpit of Germanwings flight 9525 and flew it into a mountain, had spent some months training at the Lufthansa-owned pilot training facility in Arizona. Lubitz was killed along with all 150 people on board in the crash. The ATCA told Reuters it was not commenting on the reports. REUTERS

Germany’s aviation association BDL said all airlines in the country, including Lufthansa, had agreed to discuss such rule changes.

“Today we spoke with all our members about possible consequences,” BDL managing director Matthias von Randow told Reuters. “We will therefore look at introducing these new procedures without delay.”

Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd and Singapore Airlines Ltd said they have strict, multi-layered systems in place to protect the cockpit but declined to comment further.

The incident is likely to provoke further debate about the future of cockpit protections. Since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, regulators have required cockpit doors to be impenetrable when locked from the inside.

But the idea that pilots themselves could be a danger creates reason to re-examine such policies, said retired French crash investigator Alain Bouillard.

“Today we have the reverse question: should we be blocking doors?” he said.

Last year’s disappearance of Malaysia Airlines 370 raised such questions, although whether the pilots played any role in that plane’s disappearance has never been confirmed.

LAM Flight TM-470 crashed in Namibia in November 2013 after what investigators said were “intentional actions by the pilot” after the first officer left the flight deck, causing the death of 33 people.

An Egypt Air flight 990 from Los Angeles to Cairo crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 217 on board, in 1999. The cause is disputed but U.S. investigators determined the probable cause was deliberate action by the relief first officer.

U.S.-based Adams Rite Aerospace, a unit of Transdigm  which supplies systems to secure cockpit doors on all Airbus planes, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

  1. No Comments.

Go to Top