Airlines introduce two-person cockpit rule after Alps crash

Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:45pm EDT
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By Victoria Bryan and Tim Hepher

BERLIN/PARIS, March 26 (Reuters) - Airlines rushed on Thursday to change rules 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.

Airlines including Norwegian Air Shuttle, Britain's easyJet, Air Canada 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.

"We had a lot of concerned customers," an Air Berlin spokesman said.

Airlines including Ryanair that already had such rules in place 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.   Continued...