FAA regulations prevent crew members from being alone in cockpit

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) — Pat Wendler is one of many jittery passengers landing at Bradley International as word spreads that investigators now say the copilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 flew the plane into the French Alps on purpose, killing everyone on board.

“I was looking at the pilot and crew when they got on, looking at them going ‘okay, they look normal,'” said Wendler.

In Europe and much of the world, a pilot is allowed to be alone in the cockpit, but in the U.S., two sanctioned crew members must be in the cockpit at all times. This order from the FAA regulations mandates…

“Procedures for two person flight crews, when one flight crew leaves the flight deck, (i.e. [a flight attendant] must lock the door and remain on the flight deck until the flight crew member returns to his or her station),” mandate FAA regulations.

Wendler is thankful for the built-in redundancy.

“What do you think that when the pilot steps out a flight attendant steps into the cockpit?” we asked.

“That feels good, that feels better,” said Wendler. “Of course, I would never have thought a pilot would fly into a mountain anyway, but I like that better.”

It’s also good to know that on the hundreds of flights in and out of Bradley and the thousands of flights around the U.S., they also have guidelines for cockpit security on the doors. Not only do the doors lock and seal from inside the cockpit, but if the captain needs to get back inside in an emergency, there is a keypad or a thumbprint scanner that can be put right on the door and it will open from the outside.

U.S. pilots are also required to undergo go psych evaluations twice a year. Doctor Michael Teiger lives in West Hartford and is a certified aviation medical examiner who performs mental health scans on thousands of pilots.

“Psychiatric issues that are identifiable are immediate exclusions,” he said. “Taking medications like anti-depressants, amphetamines, anxiety medications are immediate exclusions.”

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