Airlines Change Cockpit Rules in Wake of Germanwings Crash


MEOLANS-REVEL, France, March 26 (UPI) — Some airlines are changing their rules to require two people in a cockpit at all times after a French prosecutor said it appeared as though the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 intentionally crashed the plane while alone in the cabin.

Multiple European and Canadian airlines on Thursday announced changes to their protocol in the wake of the deadly crash, which killed all 150 on board after going down in the French Alps on Tuesday.

Investigators said the cockpit voice recorder recovered from the Airbus A320 plane indicated co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 28, was alone in the cockpit at the time of the crash. The pilot had left the cockpit and was unable to regain entry.

Though U.S. regulations mandate the so-called “rule of two,” in which two crew members must always be present in the cockpit, there is no such federal rule in Canada or Europe.

European budget airlines easyJet and Norwegian Air Shuttle both announced they were adopting the rule of two effective almost immediately, The Guardian reported.

“EasyJet can confirm that, with effect from tomorrow … it will change its procedure,” the British airline said in a statement.

“Norwegian has been looking into changing its cockpit procedures for a while,” a statement from Norwegian Air Shuttle said. “However, in light of the tragic Germanwings accident, we are speeding up the process so that two crew members always are present in the cockpit. This means that if one of the pilots leaves the cockpit, one crew member must replace him/her during this time. Our passengers’ and crew’s safety always comes first, which is why we have decided to change our procedures, in line with U.S. regulations.”

Norwegian said the rule will go into effect as soon as it is approved by the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority.

Canadian airlines Air Transat and Air Canada have also said they plan to implement the rule of two. Finnish airline Finnair already uses the rule.

According to U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, under the rule of two, a qualified crew member or flight attendant could relieve a pilot or co-pilot’s place in the cockpit if necessary.

Former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman James Hall said that in light of the Germanwings crash, that’s not enough. He told The New York Times all flights should have a third pilot in a jump seat available to relieve a fellow pilot if needed.