More airlines relax two-in-cockpit rule

The rule that there must always be two people in the cockpit of an aircraft, introduced following the Germanwings crash, March 2015, is being relaxed by more airlines, amid fears that putting cabin crew into the cockpit is more dangerous for air passenger safety than leaving one pilot in command, as reported by Sputnik.

Germanwings flight 9525 ended in tragedy after one of its pilots, Andreas Lubitz, locked himself into the cockpit while his co-pilot left for a short break and then deliberately flew the aircraft — an Airbus A320-211 en route from Barcelona-El Prat Airport in Spain to Dusseldorf Airport in Germany — into the Alps in France, killing 144 passengers and six crew.

In the aftermath of the accident, there were calls for no pilots to be allowed to remain alone in the cockpit — hence the two-in-a-cockpit rule, whereby a cabin crew member swaps places with the leaving pilot as a security measure.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a safety recommendation to all airlines.

Although it was subsequently withdrawn, many airlines have continued with the procedure, to allay the fears of passengers.

However, more and more airlines are dropping in, for fear that constant changeover of crew in and out of the cockpit actually puts safety at more risk than that of a rogue pilot — such as Lubitz — crashing the aircraft.

“The evaluation has shown that the two-person regulation does not bring any safety gain,” the Federal Association of German Air Transport (BDL) said in Berlin, April 28. It argues that the more frequent opening of the pilots’ chimney would lead to additional risks that unauthorized persons could enter the cockpit.

The EASA has introduced significant regulations on testing of pilots’ mental fitness to fly, since that was given as the major contributory factor in the Germanwings disaster.

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