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Germany scraps 'two-person' cockpit rule

Germany's airlines have decided to do away with rules requiring two people in the cockpit at the same time, the country's aviation association said. The rule had been introduced after a deadly crash in 2015.

German airlines would no longer require two people to be in the cockpit at all times, an industry group said Friday, abandoning a rule introduced after a deadly crash in 2015.

"An evaluation has shown that the two-person rule does not increase security, rather other risks to air security arise," the statement from the German Aviation Association (BDL) said. The requirement to have two people in the cockpit at all times was introduced after Germanwings copilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew a passenger plane into a French mountainside, killing 144 passengers and six crew in March 2015.

Black box recordings showed that Lubitz, who had been treated for mental health problems in the months before the disaster, locked himself into the cockpit alone.

Mental health checks are to minimize risks

The BDL's decision follows an easing of the two-person rule at the EU level by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in August last year. Instead of a blanket requirement, the EASA recommended using the measure only on a case-by-case basis. The BDL argued that allowing more people access to the cockpit and opening the door more often and more obviously would raise the risk of terrorists or criminals forcing their way in.

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Germanwings crash – losses weigh heavily

"Security dangers resulting from an outside attack... must continue to be judged much more elevated than the danger from a so-called homicide/suicide case," the group said.

It cited a historical survey showing that while there had been 1,074 hijacking cases between 1931 and today, only four cases of pilot suicide had been recorded. Keeping cabin crew in the cockpit whenever one pilot was absent would also leave them unable to help passengers in case of an emergency, the statement said.

To minimize the risk of a repeat tragedy, the airlines said they would step up mental health checks on pilots and offer air crew access to psychological support.

bb/hg (AFP, AP)

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