EasyJet CEO Says Two-in-Cockpit Rule Is Best Option After Crash

EasyJet Plc said a policy of always having two people in aircraft cockpits adopted after the Germanwings crash simply requires a flight attendant who would have stood outside when a pilot took a break to step onto the flight deck.

“All it is is standing on the other side of the door and just making sure that if the pilot is incapacitated or something goes wrong, they’re there to call the other captain back,” Chief Executive Officer Carolyn McCall said today in an interview. “There is no change in their duty really.”

EasyJet adopted the new standard on March 26 when evidence emerged that a Germanwings copilot had deliberately flown into a French mountain after locking his captain out of the cockpit, killing himself and 149 others. The European Aviation Safety Agency later requested that all carriers make the policy change.

The heads of both flight operations and cabin services at EasyJet had been reviewing the adoption of a two-in-cockpit rule even before the tragedy in the Alps, McCall said. The switch means a flight attendant will now assist in checking who is seeking entry to the flight deck using a video screen, rather than doing so from outside the door, she said.

The widespread introduction of video monitoring of cockpit entryways after the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. was the main factor in leading airmen to fly solo, since it negated the need to have a second person on the flight deck to check the spy-hole while the pilot concentrated on flying the plane.

‘Isolated Act’

McCall, who spoke en route from London to Amsterdam, said that EasyJet is not considering any additional procedures, though it will continue to monitor the results of the Germanwings investigation and respond to findings.

“This was a random, isolated act by someone who was very ill and had deceived his employers,” she said, adding that the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority requires annual mental and physical assessments of pilots. EasyJet base captains also have a “pastoral role” and are accessible to other flight crew with “worries at home, problems of any description,” she added.

As the CEO of Europe’s second-biggest discount airline, McCall said that the status of Germanwings as a discount unit of Deutsche Lufthansa AG was irrelevant to the crash.

“It’s just a complete fallacy to say it’s either a legacy or low-cost issue,” she said. “Actually it’s not even an airline issue, as it emerges, because it could happen on a train, in a shopping center, it has happened in schools. It’s a random act of violence.”

EasyJet today opened its 26th base at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and said it plans to station four jets at the hub. The carrier will now serve the Dutch capital from 29 locations.

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