Germanwings task force recommends more pilot checks | News | DW | 30.06.2015
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Germanwings task force recommends more pilot checks

A task force set up after March's Germanwings crash is recommending more pilot checks, better psychiatric care and improved communication. Meanwhile, victims' lawyers say that Lufthansa has offered further compensation.

Around three months after the Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 was intentionally crashed in the French Alps, the German Aviation Association (BDL) has published its interim report.

The BDL recommended that doctors responsible for clearing pilots to fly should pay closer attention to possible psychological conditions. Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who had a history of depression, is believed to have deliberately flown the Airbus A320 into a mountainside.

"Depressions are commonplace, and in most cases also altogether curable," Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, whose ministry commissioned the interim report, said on Tuesday.

The task force also suggested that aviation authorities consider further tests seeking evidence of abuse of alcohol, drugs or medication, and the possibility of spot checks on pilots akin to those practiced in the US.

Communication between doctors, airlines and pilots should be simplified, the report recommended, saying the current rules, notably doctors being sworn to secrecy and data protection norms, made the process too complicated.

"The relationship of trust between pilots, companies and doctors is a contributing factor to safety and must absolutely be maintained," BDL boss Matthias von Randow told reporters in Berlin. He said a working group would seek ways to improve communication without violating people's privacy or dissuading pilots from seeking medical help.

No need to change doors, but two-in-cockpit rule to stand

Randow said that in the short term, he did not see the need for changes to the cockpit doors aboard commercial planes. Co-pilot Lubitz is believed to have used the security safeguards to lock out his own pilot when steering the plane into the Alps. In the longer term, von der Randow suggested that a separate lock between the cabin and cockpit could be introduced.

One key change to cockpit security followed almost immediately after the crash. As on most US flights, and intercontinental flights out of Europe, intracontinental European flights now require that at least two people remain in the cockpit at all times - meaning a member of the cabin crew must step in if one of the pilots wishes to leave. Von Randow said on Tuesday that the new regulation will stay in place across Germany's airlines and will be evaluated after a year.

Lubitz is believed to have been alone in the cockpit at the point of the crash.

Compensation

Also on Tuesday, a lawyer working on behalf of the relatives of those killed in the Germanwings crash announced that Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, had made a compensation offer of 25,000 euros ($27,740) per passenger, plus an additional payment of 10,000 euros to each immediate relative.

Lawyer Elmar Giemulla described the offer as "completely inadequate."

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, Lufthansa offered those affected aid of up to 50,000 euros per passenger to cover immediate costs, a payment described as independent of any subsequent settlement.

msh, ksb/tj (AP, dpa)

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