Emirates and Etihad to have two in the cockpit at all times

The airlines' decision follows the Germanwings air crash in which 150 people died last week after a co-pilot locked his colleague out of the cockpit and put the plane into a fatal dive into the French Alps.
Having two members of aircrew in the cockpit at all times is intended to guard against the possibility of a staff member behaving erratically or dangerously during a flight. Sammy Dallal / The National
Having two members of aircrew in the cockpit at all times is intended to guard against the possibility of a staff member behaving erratically or dangerously during a flight. Sammy Dallal / The National

Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways said on Sunday that they will have two people in their passenger jets’ cockpits at all times, following last week’s Germanwings tragedy.

The UAE’s regulator is also taking action. The head of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) says it is in discussions with the European Aviation Safety Agency over the mental health of pilots and airlines’ cockpit policies.

Reports following last week’s plane crash indicate that Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of the Germanwings flight, deliberately flew the plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 passengers on board. Earlier investigations suggested Mr Lubitz was severely depressed. The plane’s black box recorder showed that he apparently locked the captain out of the cockpit when he went to use the bathroom, and then crashed the plane into the French mountain range.

Among the suggestions for this country’s cockpit crew is having pilots undergo “regular” psychological assessments, said Saif Al Suwaidi, the director general of the GCAA in the UAE.

“Once a year is not enough, we are studying what procedure could prevent such things from happening.

“If, for example, someone thinks he’s depressed, he would speak up and the company would understand,” he added.

Etihad said “it will ensure there are always two crew members in the flight deck at all times on all flights” with immediate effect.

Emirates reiterated Etihad’s position, saying: “Although there is no international industry regulation that mandates this as a compulsory practice, Emirates has today implemented a new operating policy where there would always be two crew members in the cockpit. This is effective immediately.”

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said on Friday that airlines are licensed by their national governments, and comply with the safety regulations of their countries. This includes “procedures with respect to cockpit access and medical requirements”.

Iata Added: “Through experience and sharing of best practices, many will exceed those requirements with their own company policies.”

selgazzar@thenational.ae

Published: March 29, 2015 04:00 AM

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