Irish model of two crew on deck to be Europe’s standard

Many airlines worldwide have begun to adopt rules similar to those put in place by the Irish Aviation Authority a decade ago to ensure there are always two crew members on the flight decks of passenger jets while airborne.

Irish model of two crew on deck to be Europe’s standard

Germany’s aviation association, BDL, has said it plans to introduce a two-person cockpit rule for all its airlines as Air Berlin said it has already adopted the policy in the wake of the Germanwings crash.

Air Canada, Westjet, and charter airline Air Transat have also confirmed the policy change, while Emirates has also implemented a two-staff cockpit policy. British airline easyJet, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Icelandair will follow suit.

The rules, which apply to Aer Lingus and Ryanair and all other air carriers registered in Ireland, were adopted in 2004 in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US. However, they do not apply to foreign airlines operating in Ireland.

Similar procedures have also been in place in the US for more than a decade but are not widespread among European airlines.

However, that is expected to change before the end of next week, according to IAA.

“The European Aviation Safety Agency [EASA] is rapidly developing new rules for deployment across Europe which will likely reflect the pre-existing Irish procedures regarding the minimum number of authorised persons in the flight crew compartment at all times,” said a spokesman for the IAA yesterday.

“The IAA is working closely with its European colleagues to provide support and learn from our direct experience.

“All Irish air carriers must comply with IAA requirements wherever they operate in Europe or outside of Europe. IAA does not have oversight of non-Irish airlines, who are subject to the regulations applied by their own national aviation authority.

“Since 2004, the IAA has required procedures to be in place with Irish airlines to ensure that there are a minimum of two persons in the cockpit at all times during flight. These procedures apply to all heavy aircraft equipped with reinforced locked cockpit doors, i.e. any aircraft over 45 tonnes and carry more than 60 passengers — examples being Ryanair Boeing 737-800 aircraft and Aer Lingus Airbus A320 aircraft.”

IAA CEO Eamon Brennan said yesterday that although the procedures were put in place on safety grounds, the precise circumstances that cause the Germanwings crash were not anticipated at the time.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, Mr Brennan said the IAA did not consider such a rule to be excessive and would be pushing for it to be adopted by European airlines.

“I think we took the right decision and others are catching up now,” he added. “It enables the travelling public to have confidence in airline safety.”

Both Irish airlines confirmed it is standard operating procedure on all its aircraft for a member of cabin crew to enter the cockpit if a pilot exits.

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