French eye cockpit entry, psychological screening rules

French aviation investigators are examining "systemic weaknesses" like cockpit entry rules and psychological screening procedures that could have led to the Germanwings plane crash issues that could eventually change worldwide aviation practices.

PTI| Last Updated: Mar 31, 2015, 22:35 PM IST

Paris: French aviation investigators are examining "systemic weaknesses" like cockpit entry rules and psychological screening procedures that could have led to the Germanwings plane crash issues that could eventually change worldwide aviation practices.

Lufthansa, meanwhile, said its insurers had set aside USD 300 million to deal with possible costs from the March 24 crash.

The announcement today by the French aviation agency BEA signaled the latest re-think about airline procedures in the wake of the Germanwings crash, which jolted an aviation industry already reeling after one passenger plane disappeared into an ocean and another was shot out of the sky over war-torn eastern Ukraine.

Authorities say Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who in the past had been treated for suicidal tendencies, locked his captain out of the cockpit before deliberately crashing the Airbus 320 into a mountain in the French Alps. All 150 people aboard Flight 9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf were killed that day.

The goal of the BEA investigation is to make recommendations to aviation authorities, not just in France but anywhere, about what can be done to prevent similar crashes. French prosecutors are carrying out a separate crash probe to pinpoint possible criminal wrongdoing.

Last week's Germanwings crash has already produced some changes in aviation procedures. Europe's aviation regulator now says all airlines in Europe should require two people in the cockpit at all times during a flight. Many airlines have already imposed the new rule, which has been in place in the US since the September 11 attacks.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, which brings together 191 nations, said state agencies like the BEA must officially determine the causes and contributing factors of accidents and give recommendations on ways to avoid recurrences. ICAO could then bring such recommendations to its member states possibly leading to changes in international aviation standards.

BEA said it aims to provide a "detailed analysis" of the Germanwings cockpit voice recorder and any other flight data but it also plans to widen its search, to examine issues that could be problematic for all airlines.

"(We will study) systemic weaknesses (that) might possibly have led to this aviation disaster," BEA said in its first statement since prosecutors detailed the co-pilot's suspected role in the crash.