EU Watchdog Urges Two in Cockpit, after Germanwings Crash

Europe's aviation watchdog on Friday recommended that two people be present in the cockpit at all times, after a lone rogue pilot apparently deliberately crashed a Germanwings plane in March, killing all 150 people on board.

The European Aviation Safety Agency said all pilots should also "undergo psychological evaluation" during training or before entering service and face random drug and alcohol tests, although investigators have not cited them as factors in the Germanwings tragedy. 

Investigators say that 27-year-old German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who had a history of severe depression, intentionally slammed the Airbus A320 into the French Alps.

They said he locked the other pilot out of the cockpit when the latter went to the toilet on the flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf on March 24 and then put the aircraft into a steep dive as his colleague tried desperately to get back in.

French prosecutors said Lubitz, who suffered from "psychosis", was terrified of losing his sight and consulted 41 different doctors in the previous five years, including psychiatrists and ear, throat and nose specialists.

Several of these doctors who were questioned by German investigators said Lubitz complained he had only 30 percent vision, saw flashes of light and suffered such crippling anxiety he could barely sleep.

Lubitz reportedly said "life has no sense with this loss of vision".

However the doctors he consulted -- including one who booked him off work two days before the ill-fated flight -- did not reveal his mental struggles due to doctor-patient confidentiality rules.

Immediately after the crash, the EASA published a "temporary recommendation for airlines to ensure that at least two crew, including at least one qualified pilot, are in the flight crew compartment at all times of the flight." 

Many European airlines already enforced such a measure before the crash and others have adopted it since.

After a three-month review ordered by the European Commission, the EU executive arm, EASA confirmed the recommendation and said it would look at the situation again after a year.

Source: Agence France Presse

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