Lufthansa defends policies after French crash

Lufthansa Airlines CEO. (Photo/Associated Press)
Lufthansa Airlines CEO. (Photo/Associated Press)

PARIS (MEDIA GENERAL) – The CEO of Lufthansa Airlines spent time describing what they know about the co-pilot and the safety procedures in place aboard the Germanwings plane that was crashed deliberately killing 150 people.

“I am not a lawyer. But, if a person kills himself and 149 other people, another word should be used, not suicide,” said Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa Airlines CEO during a news conference Thursday morning.

His comments came after news from the prosecutor on the case that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit and deliberately brought the plane down killing everyone on board.

Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz

“He was 100% fit to fly without any restrictions. His flight performance was perfect. There was nothing to worry about. We have no findings about why this happened,” said Spohr.

The 28-year-old German pilot began his training in 2008. Lufthansa’s CEO did reveal he interrupted his training six years ago. But, he said that is not uncommon and Lubitz would have had to pass tests to resume his training. Lubitz passed all medical and educational exams and was declared fit to fly.

Pilot Testing

Lufthansa conducts yearly medical tests. However, it does not conduct psychological exams. This is not required by the ministry. Psychological help is offered if requested, according to the airline. And, there are management options if there is a concern about psychological issues.

Door Safety Procedures

“It doesn’t matter what kind of safety measures you have. A single case like this cannot be excluded by any system you have,” Spohr said. During the news conference, Spohr went over extensively the procedures surrounding the safety of the cockpit.

Because of September 11, procedures for securing the cockpit were changed. Doors are secured for the cockpit in order to prevent people from entering. Even if you have small weapons, you cannot force entry, Spohr said.

If one of the pilots leaves the cockpit, it is possible to ring inside and the pilot can look and see who wants to come in, then there’s a button and the pilot can open the secured door.

There is another emergency procedure in place in case the pilot inside the cockpit is unconscious. Another code can trigger a buzzing sound and electrically force the door open. However, the pilot inside the cockpit can manually keep the door locked by putting a lever in the lock position.

Deep Sadness

“What happened here is a tragic individual event and I would like to emphasize this,” Spohr said. “We stand jointly together and are united with relatives, friends and victims. It is a mystery and we are deeply saddened.”

What’s Next

Spohr indicated the victims’ families will receive money from the airline and that the airline was stable financially and will continue flying. He also said the airline will consider what can be improved upon when it selects candidates and when it does training. “But, that does not change my trust in Lufthansa’s training for decades,” he emphasized.

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