Lufthansa to adopt two-person cockpit rule

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The parent company of Germanwings said Friday that it is going to start requiring two staff members to be in the cockpit of its planes at all times.

The decision by Lufthansa Airlines follows reports that a co-pilot of the subsidiary airline intentionally crashed a flight in the French Alps this week, killing everyone on board. 

Lufthansa said it is making the change to prevent a repeat of Tuesday’s incident.

Co-pilot Andreas Gunter Lubitz is accused of locking the captain out of the cockpit of Flight 9525, and intentionally crashing the plane.

“In coordination with the Luftfahrtbundesamt (Germany’s aviation authority), the other German airlines and the German aviation industry association (Bundesverband der deutschen Luftverkehrswirtschaft), the airlines of the Lufthansa Group are to adopt a new cockpit occupancy procedure as a precautionary measure,” the company said in a Facebook post

“Under the new procedure, two authorized persons must be present in the cockpit at all times during a flight,” the statement continued. “The passenger airlines of the Lufthansa Group will adopt the new procedure as soon as possible, in due consultation with their national aviation authority.” 

U.S. rules have required two people to be in airplane cockpits during commercial flights since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. If a pilot has to leave the cockpit during a flight for any reason, a flight attendant will typically step in to prevent one person from being left alone at the airplane’s controls like Lubitz was. 

Lufthansa officials initially resisted calls to adopt the U.S. two-person cockpit rule because it was not required by European aviation authorities. Other European airlines like Norwegian Air said they would implement the requirement immediately, ramping up pressure on Luftansa. 

U.S. airline industry groups have said the rules would make it more difficult for a single pilot to crash a plane.

Officials in France, where the flight crashed, have not labeled the German Lubitz a terrorist. Reports Friday indicated that Lubitz destroyed a doctor’s note excusing him from work on the day of the crash before he entered the cockpit for the fatal flight.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records show Lubitz was certified as a pilot by U.S. officials. The FAA certification lists Lubitz as a “private pilot (foreign based),” who was allowed to fly single-engine places and gliders in the U.S.

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