Swiss International Air Lines has adopted a new cockpit procedure in the wake of revelations that one of the pilots on a Germanwings flight that crashed on Tuesday apparently was locked out of the flight deck by the other pilot.
French prosecutors believe co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, locked himself alone in the cockpit of the Germanwings Airbus A320 on Tuesday and deliberately crashed it in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.
Swiss, part of Germany’s Lufthansa group along with Germanwings, said Friday it has “resolved to modify its already extensive cockpit safety procedures as a precautionary measure”.
“In the event of the absence of either of the two pilots at any time during the flight, a further crew member must be present in the cockpit with the remaining pilot,” the airline said in a statement provided to swissinfo.ch.
“The new provision, which enters into effect immediately, has been adopted in the light of recent events and an advised safety recommendation from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA),” it said.
Two other Swiss-based operations, Helvetic Airways and EasyJet Switzerland, already have indicated similar new measures that are being put into effect immediately to require two crew members always in the cockpit if a pilot leaves for any reason.
Swiss noted that its pilots must undergo training and regular medical checkups that involve psychological testing. Pilots also can report problems they observe in others.
Lubitz had received a sick note from doctors showing he suffered a health condition that would have prevented him from flying the day of the crash, but he apparently hid the condition from his employer, German prosecutors said.
The tragic events also dominate Swiss news media on Friday.
The Geneva-based Le Temps newspaper described the act as “The suicide that changes the rules of air transport”.
A syndicated commentary in the TagesAnzeiger and Der Bund newspapers pointed to the difficulty of understanding a tragic choice made by a person apparently devoid of ideological factors, which has claimed so many lives and will haunt those of survivors for the rest of their years.
“Somebody who takes innocent parties with him into the abyss in this manner wants the whole world to participate in his suffering,” Josef Sachs, forensic psychiatrist at the Psychiatric Services of canton Aargau, told the Blick newspaper.
“He doesn’t want to keep this desperation to himself, but to let everyone know.”