Airlines in Europe and North America announced new cockpit security policies Thursday hours after officials said a Germanwings co-pilot had locked his captain out of the cockpit and crashed a plane into the French Alps earlier this week. Canada's Air Transat, British airline carrier Easyjet and Norwegian Air Shuttle, Europe's third-largest budget airline, were among several companies that ordered new flight regulations requiring two crew members to always be in the cockpit of a flying aircraft.
Norwegian spokeswoman Charlotte Holmbergh-Jacobsson said the new rules would take effect "as soon as possible" on all commercial flights globally, the Associated Press reported. Officials with the Norwegian airline confirmed that the decision was in response to Tuesday's crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps, in which co-pilot Andreas Lubitz apparently locked himself in the cockpit. The disaster killed 150 people. Other airlines in Europe already require two crew members in the cockpit of a flying aircraft at all times.
"We have decided to always have two people in the cockpit," Air Transat spokeswoman Debbie Cabana told AFP, adding the policy would be effective starting Friday. "When one of the two pilots leaves the cockpit, the cabin chief (chief flight attendant) will take their place inside the cockpit."
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told reporters after learning about the alleged mass murder-suicide that "No system in the world can rule out such an isolated event." He added: "I have worked at Lufthansa as an engineer, I have worked as a pilot at Lufthansa, I have carried responsibility as a manager at Lufthansa for many, many years. Always, wherever I was, whoever my boss was, the rule was always safety is No. 1. And that this has happened to us -- I can only say we are sorry."
Lubitz had passed all the psychological and physical tests required for training, Spohr said. Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, allows its pilots to leave the cockpit once cruising altitude is reached.
Dominique Fouda, a spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency in Cologne, Germany, told the New York Times that there was no regulatory requirement in Europe for a cabin crew member to be present in the cockpit when one of the pilots leaves for “physiological reasons.”
The victims of the crash included 16 high school students and two teachers returning from an exchange program.