Interview on Germanwings: Solving one problem led to another

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Paris, March 28: The Germanwings incident only goes on to show that solving one problem has led to another. Securing the cockpit to such an extent which only the person inside could open was part of the rule implemented post 9/11.

The initial investigations reveal that the co-pilot had locked the cockpit door and none from outside could open it up. This led to the co-pilot crashing the aircraft in which over a 100 lives were lost.


Air Marshal B K Pandey says that these are very difficult cases and not always do putting in place rules help. It is a case where the airlines went on to solve one problem and this led to another.

In this interview with Oneindia, Air Marshal Pandey there is a need to have a coded system in place where the cockpit door can be opened from the outside as well only by authorized persons.

Your thoughts on the incident?

When we look at what has been coming out in this case, it is a case where the solving of one problem has to another. The cockpit doors in aircrafts have been made so secure post 9/11 that none other than the person inside can open it.

Post 9/11 the security of the cockpit door was increased to prevent hijacking attempts. In the Germanwings case, the pilot outside could not open the door and the co-pilot very sadly went off the rockers and crashed the aircraft.

Do you buy the theory of a depressed pilot crashing the aircraft?

We need to go by what the investigators are saying now. I however feel that it is still speculative and there could be more.

What measures do you think can be taken to prevent incidents such as these?

As things stand, people in the cockpit can lock the door and it can be opened only by them. There is no way that anyone from outside can open the door.

I feel that we need a coded system. The pilot who leaves the cockpit should have the code to open the door when he is outside.

What about the mental state of pilots? How does one address this issue?

The mental state of the pilot in this case is something that is being spoken about. As I pointed out that more information needs to come out. We need to wait for the analysis of the flight data recorder

What steps are taken to ensure that the pilots are in a sane state of mind?

There is only a medical examination that takes place which is purely physical. There is no psycho analysis that is done. Assume that his mental state is analysed, there is no gurantee that he wont get depressed over night. How often can you check the pilot for his mental state.

Some would say that the same had happened to MH370 too.

I would not think so. That was a different case. There have been 64 MH370 like incidents in the past and just one Germanwings like incident. We cannot comment anything on MH370 unless the wreckage is found.

How is India handling the issue when it comes to safety of its aircrafts?

India has faced some peculiar problems. There was a time when a flight from Pune had a problem. The cockpit door got locked and none could open it. This led to the DGCA saying one persons needs to remain in the cockpit at all times. If both pilots are out then an attendant needs to be there to prevent the doors from getting accidentally locked.

In the Bangkok-Delhi flight, both the pilots had left the cockpit. The plane was on autopilot and two airhostess were in the cockpit. One of them accidentally hit a button and the plane began to make its descent and lost around 6000 feet until the pilot hurried back and the situation under control. There has also been a case in India where the pilots have gone off to sleep.

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