MONTREAL – Canadian airlines and the federal government moved swiftly on Thursday to tighten security policies after it was revealed the pilot of the airliner that crashed in the French Alps this week was locked outside the cockpit.
French investigators concluded that the co-pilot deliberately crashed the Germanwings plane, killing all 150 people on board and several Canadian carriers, including Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat quickly announced that all flights would have two people in the cockpit at all times.
Air Canada and WestJet said it was a change in policy while Air Transat admitted it did not have any policy in place.
The federal government issued an interim order requiring any Canadian airline carrying passengers to have two crew members in the cockpit at all times.
“If you’re carrying passengers, this is going to apply to you,” Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said in a surprise announcement outside the House of Commons.
Raitt said the directive requires two members of the cabin crew – not necessarily both licensed pilots – to be on the flight deck at all times.
“This order is seeking to fill a gap that is in the rules. That’s what this order does. There now – currently, there is not the requirement to have two members in the order in the cabin.”
Raitt also says she has asked her department to review all policies and procedures that may be applicable to the safety of passengers.
Air Canada said in a statement that it would not elaborate on flight deck protocols and access because they involve security measures.
The airline also said that when pilots are initially hired they undergo a behavioural assessment.
They also receive recurrent medical exams every year – twice a year after the age of 60, it added.
The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), which represents 53,000 pilots among 39 airlines in the U.S. and Canada, also issued a similar statement.
It said that once hired, flight crew members are evaluated continuously throughout their careers through training, medical exams, and other programs by the airline and during random flight checks by Transport Canada.
“In addition, all flight and cabin crew members monitor and evaluate each other while on duty, and procedures, processes, and programs exist to respond should a concern arise,” it added.
With files from Ross Marowits in Montreal and Bruce Cheadle in Ottawa.