Airlines make pre-emptive changes to cockpit rules

Airlines make pre-emptive changes to cockpit rules

Major airlines have acted to ensure that two crew members are always present in the cockpit in the wake of the Germanwings crash.

The pre-emptive changes come after it emerged the co-pilot of Germanwings Airbus A320 locked himself in the cockpit before crashing the aircraft into the French Alps killing himself and all 149 other people on board.

EasyJet, Monarch Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook Airlines are among UK carriers confirming they are tightening their safety policies.

Other include Air Canada, Westjet, Air Transat, Emirates, Norwegian, Lufthansa and Air Berlin.

The Civil Aviation Authority has written to all UK carriers to ask what procedures they have in place for when one of the pilots leaves the flight deck.

A spokesman told the Financial Times that it was “very possible” that airlines could soon be required to have a member of the cabin crew stay in the cockpit if a pilot left for a break, as is the case in the US.

“Following the details that have emerged regarding the tragic Germanwings incident, we are co-ordinating closely with colleagues at the European Aviation Safety Agency and have contacted all UK operators to require them to review all relevant procedures,” the CAA said.

“All UK airline pilots undergo extensive and regular medical assessments to determine their fitness to hold a licence.

“As part of this, aeromedical examiners are required to assess a commercial pilot’s mental health at each medical examination which, for an airline pilot flying with at least one other pilot, is undertaken annually. These detailed medical assessments are in line with international aviation standards.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation as the investigation develops and our thoughts remain with the friends and relatives of all those affected by this tragic incident.”

Monarch Airlines chief operations officer, Nils Christy. said: “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.”

Norwegian said it had been looking into changing its cockpit procedures for a while.

“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,” the Scandinavian low cost carrier said.

“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 US regulations.

“Today, there are no European regulatory requirements stating that two crew members must be in the cockpit at all times.

“The new procedures will be implemented as soon as Norwegian has received an approval from the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority.”


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