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Airline safety Swiss airline stops two-person cockpit rule

An aircraft of the Swiss International Air Lines runs on taxiway at the Geneva Airport

(Keystone)

Swiss International Air Lines has decided to scrap a rule that two people must be in the cockpit of a plane at all times, introduced as a precaution after the Germanwings crash of 2015.

Investigators believe Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit after he left to use the bathroom and deliberately flew the A320 jet into a mountainside in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.

After the crash, Europe's aviation safety authority EASA imposed a rule that two crew members should be in the cockpit at all times, meaning that if one of the pilots needed to step out, a member of the cabin crew should step in. EASA relaxed the requirement in 2016, saying it was up to airlines to carry out their own risk assessment.

Swiss, part of Germany’s Lufthansa group, said in a statement on Fridayexternal link that it would lift the two-person cockpit rule with effect from May 1 and would revert to its “previous cockpit access provisions plus a number of additional safety and security measures”.

The action follows an extensive safety and security review which has concluded that the rule does not enhance fight safety and “actually introduces additional risks to daily operations in flight safety terms (such as the fact that the rule results in more and longer openings of the cockpit door),” the airline said.

Swiss stressed that it met all the requirements demanded by EASA of any airline seeking to abolish the rule. 

According to the statement, the airline’s decision is supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation.

The scrapping of the regulation is being applied across the Lufthansa group.

Reaction

Aeropers, the Swiss airline pilots association, said on Fridayexternal link that it welcomed the airline’s move, saying that the rule had brought about additional risks and that its scrapping was “reasonable”.

The two-person rule was introduced following pressure from politics and the public, said spokesman Thomas Steffen in a statement.

Airline safety is only possible in a climate in which pilots with psychological problems can speak up and receive support. This is an area which needs improvement, especially as economic pressures in the airline industry means more stress for pilots, Aeropers said.

swissinfo.ch and agencies/ilj

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