A Germanwings captain has revealed that he flew with Andreas Lubitz and left him alone on the flight deck to go to the toilet.
Frank Woiton (48) told the German newspaper 'Bild' that he remembered Lubitz, who crashed a Germanwings flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf into the Alps on Tuesday, "very well".
"When I flew with him, from time to time I left my seat and went to the lavatory," he said. "He had mastered the aircraft, he had everything under control. That's when I left him alone in the cockpit when I went to the lavatory." Mr Woiton spoke as European regulators told airlines they should now keep two crew members in cockpits at all times, including one qualified pilot.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) made the recommendation yesterday and airlines are expected to comply immediately. A number of carriers had already moved to keep two people in the cabin after it emerged that Lubitz, the co-pilot of the Germanwings flight, had waited for the captain to step outside the cockpit before he locked the door and put the plane into a dive.
EasyJet, Virgin, Monarch, Air Canada, Jet2 and Air Transat, a low-cost Canadian carrier, said they had changed their rules. British Airways declined to confirm whether it would adopt the recommendation, saying it was unwilling to discuss matters of security.
EASA has also asked airlines to consider the security implications and risks entailed in flight crew leaving the cockpit.
Mr Woiton said the bond of trust between pilot and passenger that Lubitz broke must be "painstakingly built up again".
He volunteered to fly in the wake of the crash and has already flown the route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf.
"The mood of the crew and passengers was insanely depressed. You could see it in their faces," he said. He stood outside the cockpit as the passengers boarded and shook them each by the hand.
"I will bring you safely from Dusseldorf to Barcelona. You can count on it, because I want to sit with my family at the dinner table today," he said, to applause.
Adopting EASA's recommendation would bring Europe into line with the United States, where two people must be in the cockpit at all times.
The recommendation may also be made worldwide by the International Air Transport Association, the global industry trade body, when discussing the implications of the disaster next month.
Detailed safety recommendations for the industry as a whole are likely to follow the conclusion of the formal investigation into the accident by the French Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA).
The findings of the French investigation could lead to the most sweeping changes in cockpit security since the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Then, airlines were told that cockpit doors were not only to be locked but should also be strong enough to resist a pistol or a hand grenade.
Doors were reinforced with Kevlar to make them bullet proof. (© Daily Telegraph, London)