Alps plane crash

Scandinavian airlines change cockpit rules

Scandinavian airlines change cockpit rules
A SAS plane coming in for landing at Copenhagen airport. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
UPDATED: Norwegian and SAS airlines have announced that they will require two staff in each plane's cockpit at all times following the Germanwings crash this week.
SAS, the largest airline in the Nordics, said on Friday that it would follow Swedish authorities' suggestions to implement a new policy that requires two staff members in its cockpit at all times. 
The decision represented a reversal from earlier in the day when an airline spokesman said that it was "comfortable" with its current safety routines. 
But shortly after noon on Friday, SAS spokesman Henrik Edström told Danish news agency Ritzau that the company would change its cockpit policy in light of recommendations from Swedish air traffic authorities. 
The airline is 50-percent owned by the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian states. Each year nearly 30 million passengers travel with SAS to destinations in Europe, USA and Asia.
SAS's decision to change its policies follows a similar response announced by Nordic rival Norwegian on Thursday.
"When one person leaves the cockpit, two people will now have to be there," Norwegian's flight operations director Thomas Hesthammer said, after French officials revealed the co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings flight that crashed on Tuesday appeared to have locked the pilot out of the cockpit and deliberately crashed the plane.
Prosecutors suspect Andreas Lubitz, 28, voluntarily initiated the descent of the flight towards the French Alps where it crashed near the village of Barcelonnette, killing all 150 people on board.
Other major airlines including Easyjet, Air Berlin, Virgin Atlantic and Air Canada have also announced a change in their procedures following the incident.
Despite the international spotlight on the Germanwings crash, figures suggest that Europe remains one of the safest places to fly.
The 28 countries in the EU have the world's lowest rate of fatal accidents at 1.8 per million commercial flights, according to the European Aviation Safety Agency.
As investigations continue into the Germanwings crash, it has emerged in the German media that Lubitz had spent one and a half years in psychiatric treatment.
A Lufthansa spokeswoman told news agency Reuters on Friday that the airline would not comment on the health of the pilot.
Meanwhile Düsseldorf prosecutors have opened a parallel inquiry to the main investigation underway in France because so many of the crash victims were from the German region.
Earlier on Friday dozens of grieving family members gathered in the small village in the French Alps near to where the plane launched into the mountainside.