Melbourne, March 30: Australia on Monday mandated that at least two crew members be present in the cockpit at all times in planes with 50 or more passengers operating in the country, in response to the Germanwings crash that killed 150 people.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said Australia's domestic and international airlines will boost their cockpit safety and security requirements, effective immediately.
"Australian airlines will immediately update their Standard Operating Procedures to require two members of the operating crew or authorised persons on the flight deck at all times," Truss said.
"These arrangements will apply at all times, to all regular passenger transport services where the aircraft has seating capacity for 50 passengers and above."
The announcement comes a week after the co-pilot of the Germanwings Flight 4U9525, Andreas Lubitz, locked his senior colleague out of the cockpit before he apparently crashed the plane in French Alps, killing all 150 people on board [Alps crash captain shouted 'open the damn door']
French officials believe the downing of the Germanwings aircraft appears to have been a case of suicide and mass killing. Two Australians were among the dead.
"The Australian government and the aviation industry are taking a precautionary approach to ensure the ongoing safety and security of the travelling public," Truss said.
"Today's decision is a sensible, measured response that combines safeguarding the travelling public with the practical capabilities of the aviation sector," he said. The new policy will be reviewed after 12 months to see if it is effective.
Aus govt took the step after Germanwings flight crashed in the French Alps
Previously, most Australian airlines have allowed their pilots to be alone on the flight deck. "The pilot in command of the aircraft will retain operational discretion on the application of the two flight crew cockpit requirements, to ensure safe operations, depending on flight crew circumstances," Truss said.
Many airlines have similarly introduced or recommended the "rule of two" following the Germanwings disaster. Canada and New Zealand have moved to impose the new rule within 24 hours of the Germanwings crash, while the European aviation authority has also recommended the change.
"As the investigation into the tragic loss of Germanwings flight 4U9525 proceeds, Australian government aviation agencies will continue to work with the Australian aviation industry and airline staff to identify further improvements to the safety and security of aircraft cockpits as appropriate.
"This will include Australian airlines, flight crew associations and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority working together to review the requirements for medical testing, including mental health, of flight crew members," he said.