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EASA publishes updated guidance on minimum cockpit occupancy after Germanwings 9525
22 July 2016
A320 cockpit door lock

A320 cockpit door lock

EASA is offering airlines and regulators more guidance to assess the safety and security risks associated with a flight crew member remaining alone on the flight deck.

Recent accidents involving Germanwings flight 9525 and LAM Mozambique Airlines Flight 470 highlighted the risk associated with a flight crew member remaining alone in a flight crew compartment equipped with a secure door and being able to deliberately lock out the other crew member(s).

On 27 March 2015, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published a Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) addressing this risk. Feedback from airlines led EASA to publish an updated SIB.

CAT.OP.MPA.210 of Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 stipulates that flight crew members required to be on duty in the flight crew compartment shall remain at the assigned station, unless absence is necessary for the performance of duties in connection with the operations or for physiological needs, provided at least one suitably qualified pilot remains at the controls of the aircraft at all times.
In such cases, EASA recommends operators to assess the safety and security risks associated with a flight crew member remaining alone in the flight crew compartment.
This assessment should take the following elements into account:

  1. the operator’s psychological and security screening policy of flight crews;
  2. employment stability and turnover rate of flight crews;
  3. access to a support programme, providing psychological support and relief to flight crew when needed; and
  4. ability of the operator’s management system to mitigate psychological and social risks.

If the assessment leads the operator to require two authorised persons in accordance with CAT.GEN.MPA.135 to be in the flight crew compartment at all times, operators should ensure that:
(a) the role of the authorised person, other than the operating pilot, in the flight crew compartment is clearly defined, considering that his/her main task should be to open the secure door when the flight crew member who left the compartment returns;
(b) only suitably qualified flight crew members are allowed to sit at the controls;
(c) safety and security procedures are established for his/her presence in the flight crew compartment (e.g. operation of the flight deck, specific procedure for entry, use of observer seat and oxygen masks, avoidance of distractions etc.);
(d) training needs are addressed and identified as appropriate;
(e) safety risks stemming from the authorised person leaving the passenger cabin are assessed and mitigated, if necessary; and
(f) resulting procedures are detailed in the Operations Manual and, when relevant, the related security reference documents.