Brussels outlines EU security measures

The European Commission has today released a fact sheet detailing EU security measures in civil airliners.

What are the current rules on the minimum crew members required in the cockpit?

On 27 March, EASA (the European Air Safety Agency) issued a recommendation for airlines to observe the “four-eye-rule” in the cockpit; stipulating that in the case of the Captain or First Officer leaving the cockpit, a member of the crew should be present in the cockpit with the remaining pilot.

European safety regulations require that pilots shall remain at the aircraft controls unless absence is necessary for physiological or operational safety needs.

There is no European requirement that a member of the cabin crew must enter the cockpit in the event a pilot needs to take a short break for such needs. There is however a requirement that the cockpit door can be opened from the outside in case of emergency.

For more information: EASA Safety Information Bulletin SIB No. 2015-04 issued 27 March 2015 on authorised persons in the flight crew compartment

COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 965/2012 of 5 October 2012 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air operations pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council

Is there legislation in place regulating medical and fitness checks of airline pilots?

There is a European Regulation which mandates that pilots must have a current Medical Certificate. This certificate is issued by an approved specialist in aviation medicine and revalidated at regular intervals throughout a pilots’ career. Within the European Regulations for Medical Certificates there are requirements that relate to psychiatry and psychology.

These medical rules are binding upon every Member State and airline. During initial examination no one can obtain a medical certificate who has a medical history or clinical diagnosis of any psychiatric or psychological condition which is likely to interfere with the safe exercise of the pilot’s functions. During periodic revalidation (at least once a year) the approved medical examiner must also assess the pilot’s psychiatric and psychological status to maintain the needed level of psychiatric and psychological quality to exercise the profession.

These psychiatric or psychological tests are carried out by independent specialised aero-medical examiners approved by the Member States. Airlines are required to check the validity of their pilot’s aeromedical certificates before assigning them to flying duties. Every pilot is obliged to refrain from taking flight duty if she/he feels unfit to fly.

Throughout a pilot’s airline career there are proficiency checks to verify competency. These checks are normally performed twice a year in a simulator, including situations where the pilot’s ability to cope under stress is tested.

For more information: COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1178/2011 of 3 November 2011 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to civil aviation aircrew pursuant to Regulation

What about pilot background checks?

European Aviation Security Regulations require that crew members of an EU air carrier are subject to background checks before being issued with a crew identification card. Such background checks include verification of the person’s criminal and employment record. The checks are required to be repeated at regular intervals not exceeding 5 years.

For more information: REGULATION (EC) No 300/2008 of 11 March 2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation security

Which safety & security rules apply to the cockpit door of airliners?

European Safety Regulations, based on global standards set by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) include requirements that all aircraft above a certain weight carrying out commercial air transport operations must be equipped with a flight deck door. This door must be designed in such a way that it is capable of being locked and unlocked from either pilot seat in the flight deck, in order to prevent unlawful access. The aircraft involved in the accident on 24 March 2015 was covered by these European Regulations that relate to the flight deck door as well as by the operator’s approved security procedures.

Airlines must have operational procedures in relation to the Regulation on the Flight Deck Door. These procedures include access to the flight deck under normal and emergency conditions.

In Europe the standard procedure is that the cockpit is monitored from the pilot’s seat by CCTV to monitor the area outside the cockpit. In some cases there is a spyhole and not a CCTV monitor, there is a procedure, which ensures that another crew member should enter the cockpit in case one pilot leaves the station. This procedure was put in place for the purpose of monitoring the cockpit door so that the remaining pilot can remain in her/his seat at the controls of the aircraft.

For more information: COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 965/2012 of 5 October 2012 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air operations pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council

Regulation (EU) No 748/2012

How are investigations of air crashes in the EU being carried out?

The causes need to be established through an independent and credible civil investigation conducted in line with European rules (Regulation 996/2010).

After fatal civil aviation accidents, there are generally two separate investigations which need to be closely coordinated since they share the same evidence:

An accident (or safety) investigation is conducted by the national accident investigation authority in accordance with European rules; and a judicial/criminal investigation is opened with the aim of compensating victims and punishing wrongdoers.

The safety recommendations resulting from an accident should be considered by the competent authority and, as appropriate, acted upon to ensure adequate prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation.

Often such recommendations are addressed to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which takes the necessary action to address the safety issues. Where urgent action is needed, measures are taken even before the investigation is completed.

Who is in charge of the investigation on the crash of flight 4U 9525?

In accordance with the European Union Rules (REGULATION (EU) No 996/2010 on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation) the French authorities (BEA – Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile) initiated a safety investigation.

The French safety investigation authority (BEA) leads the investigation, as the accident took place on French territory (France is also the state of design and the manufacturer). Germany is entitled to participate in the accident/incident investigation, as the country of registration of the aircraft and the home country of the operator. EASA, the certifying authority of the Airbus A320, has the possibility to send an advisor to assist in the investigation and has done so.

Are “budget carriers” subject to the same safety rules as other airlines?

All airlines operating in the European skies are subject to exactly the same safety rules and exactly the same oversight. Airline safety rules must be applied by all.

What is the European Commission’s role in the accident investigation?

The Commission has no formal role in the investigation of accidents. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has sent two experts, one to the accident site and one to the BEA headquarters outside Paris.

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