In my opinion, the primary way in which this disaster could have been avoided was by having a procedure in place for passenger flights that prohibits one person being alone in the cockpit at any time. Even if the pilot gets up to go to the restroom and leaves the co-pilot in charge, as was the case on the Germanwings plane, there needs to be an extra person in there with the co-pilot. This extra person's purpose would be either to attempt to stop the other person from committing a horrible crime like the one committed by Lubitz, or to communicate to other airline staff if the other person in the cockpit is having a medical emergency. If either of these took place when only one person was alone in the cockpit and the door to the cockpit was locked, there would not be a way to stop the situation from turning into a disaster.
|This photo was taken from inside a flight simulator of the type of plane that Lubitz crashed. This switch is how he was able to lock the pilot out of the cockpit after the pilot went to the restroom, thus allowing him to crash the plane. The locking system is actually very complicated and was put in place to prevent terrorists from being able to enter the cockpit, but now has proven to be a safety measure in ways and a safety concern in others. I hope that somehow this locking system can be redesigned so that something like this does not happen again.|
In fact, this type of procedure is already in place in the United States, but not in Europe. The United States actually adopted this rule after 9/11. It would seem that European countries would want to adopt their own safety procedures after witnessing this horrible terrorist attack, but apparently no rule stating that more than one person must be in the cockpit was ever established. Now, after the tragic Germanwings crash (which likely was not a terrorist attack but almost certainly was done deliberately), many airlines outside the U.S. such as Lufthansa (the carrier company of Germanwings), Air Berlin, easyJet, and Norwegian Air Shuttleare are beginning to enforce rules prohibiting a person from being in the cockpit alone, but it is devastating that a tragedy like this one had to happen in order for these rules to be made. This, in my opinion, is very similar to the U.S. creating these sort of safety procedures only after the horrible tragedy of 9/11. In the future, I hope safety measures like these can be made proactively instead of reactively.