Germanwings crash: Airlines across world impose cockpit 'rule of two'

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 31, 2015 01:19 IST

Airlines across the globe have adopted a new cockpit rule wherein it will be mandatory for two people to be in the cockpit at all the times. This comes after a 'depressive' co-pilot of a Germanwings flight crashed the plane into the French Alps in the absence of the senior pilot, killing everyone on board.

The policy, followed in the US and introduced by the Indian aviation regulator in 2010, states that a member of the cabin crew should step into the cockpit when either pilot steps out.

On Monday, the Swiss International Air Lines, Switzerland's national carrier issued a press note stating the adoption of the policy. The Australian government also imposed the rule it called 'the rule of two'. "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)," read the Swiss press statement.

On Sunday, two Gulf carriers - Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways, announced that they will have two people in the cockpit of its passenger flights at all times. Aviation regulators in Europe and Canada were the first to embrace the policy within 24 hours of the crash that killed 150 people on March 24.

India had adopted the policy after a junior pilot on board an Air India Express flight from Dubai to Pune had failed to handle a mid-air scare in absence of the commander pilot. The flight had plummeted 7000 feet within a few seconds when the autopilot encountered a snag, soon after the captain stepped out of the cockpit.

The first officer had failed to regain control and it took the commander two minutes to key in a security code to open the cockpit door, get back on his seat and stop the descent. The scare shook up the civil aviation ministry because it happened on May 26 - four days after the fatal AI Express crash in Mangalore, which killed all the 158 people on board.

Independent air safety experts, however, said that there is no mechanism to gauge pilots' mental health in the country. "The incident has woken up aviation regulators across the globe about the need to invest in the mental health of pilots but there is no such effort in India," said a former member of the government appointed Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council (CASAC) requesting anonymity.

Air safety experts added that the DGCA is incapable of the preventive measure owing to its manpower crunch, which led to the downgrade in India's international air safety rankings last year.

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