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FAA requires 2 people in cockpit, but European rules differ

Posted at 5:45 PM, Mar 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-26 18:19:53-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Passengers at Richmond International Airport reacted to the news that officials say a German pilot purposely crashed the plane he was flying, killing 149 people and himself.

“That`s terrible,” traveler LaShaunda Jones, said.

Officials disclosed Thursday that 28-year-old Andreas Lubitz was alone at the controls of the Airbus A320 when it crashed into the French Alps.


Andreas Lubitz

They said the plane’s captain left the cockpit for a moment and when he returned could not regain access, even after banging on the door.

Officials said the co-pilot activated the descent of the plane and breathed calmly until the crash.

CBS 6 News talked to a local captain who flies the same type of plane for a major U.S. airline, and agreed not to identify him at the request of the airline.

He said if a pilot leaves the cockpit for any reason in the U.S., a flight attendant is required to stand in the cockpit.

But, at Lufthansa, which is a German airline that owns the plane that crashed, the pilot can be in the cockpit alone.


While we are still learning details about what happened on Lubitz’s flight, the captain we spoke with said pilots can access the cockpit in emergencies by entering a code, but, it is possible to lock them out for 5-7 minutes by hitting a button on the control panel in the cockpit.

Officials have not yet said if the captain tried to enter that code.

While the world waits for answers, some travelers remain uneasy about flying.

“It`s going to go through my head now when it's time for me to go back home,” Jones said.