Pilot Unions Protest Germanwings Investigation Leaks

 - March 27, 2015, 10:00 AM

French pilot union Syndicat National des Pilotes today complained about what it calls a “violation of professional secrecy” over the allegedly unauthorized leaking of the contents of cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recovered from the wreckage of the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps on March 24. Late on March 26, the European Cockpit Association (ECA), questioned the decision of French prosecutors to publicly accused Germanwings copilot Andreas Lubitz of deliberately crashing the aircraft within hours of an unidentified French military official telling The New York Times that the A320’s captain had been locked out of the cockpit.

ECA also pointed out that French accident investigation agency BEA has yet to find and secure the A320’s flight data recorder, which could yet provide vital evidence to either confirm or undermine the French prosecutor’s allegation. “We understand that many facts point to one particular theory for the cause of this event,” said the group, which represents pilot unions from across Europe. “Yet, many questions still remain unanswered at this stage.”

“The leaking of the CVR data is a serious breach of fundamental and globally accepted international accident investigation rules,” continued the ECA statement. “The motivation for and consequences of this will need to be addressed. Given the level of pressure this leak has undoubtedly created, the investigation team faces a serious distraction. The required lead of safety investigators appears to have been displaced by prosecutorial considerations. This is highly prejudicial and an impediment to making aviation safety safer with lessons from the tragedy.”

Meanwhile, German prosecutors in Düsseldorf today confirmed that they found records of sick leave paperwork and prescriptions for anti-depression medication in Lubitz’s home. According to German officials, the most recent sick leave documentation was for March 24 itself, raising questions as to why Lubitz wa on duty on the day of the crash.

Separately, the Lufthansa group, which also includes Swiss and Austrian airlines, today said that it will implement a requirement that two crew members must be in a cockpit at all times. The move reverses the statement by Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr at a March 26 press conference, when he said the company saw no reason to change its policy of allowing a pilot to remain alone in the cockpit. On March 26, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Virgin Atlantic, Monarch, EasyJet and Emirates all announced plans to adopt the requirement for a second crew member (such as a flight attendant) to enter the cockpit in the event that a pilot needs to leave it during a flight. Austrian civil aviation authorities said they would make this a requirement for all its operators, and UK officials also urged airlines to review their policies.