• Kyodo

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The Abe administration said Tuesday it is considering following the lead of the European Aviation Safety Agency in recommending that airlines ensure at least two crew members are in the cockpit at all times.

The move comes in the wake of the recent crash of a Germanwings jetliner in the French Alps.

“We should cooperate with airlines and quickly consider steps that should be taken” in Japan, transport minister Akihiro Ota said at a news conference.

The ministry hopes to reach a decision on whether it can come up with a recommendation similar to the EASA’s within “one or two weeks,” an official said.

There are currently no requirements in Japan regarding the number of crew members that should be in the cockpit.

Investigators suspect the co-pilot of the Germanwings Airbus that crashed March 24 with 150 people on board deliberately flew the plane into a mountainside after the captain left the cockpit to go to the toilet.

On Friday, the European agency published a “temporary recommendation” that calls on airlines to re-assess the safety and security risks associated with a flight crew leaving the cockpit due to operational or psychological needs.

Based on the assessment, “operators are recommended to implement procedures requiring at least two persons authorized . . . to be in the flight crew compartment at all times, or other equivalent mitigating measures to address risks identified by the operator’s revised assessment,” the agency said.

The United States had similar measures in place before the Germanwings crash, while European airlines have started taking steps to avoid leaving anyone alone in the cockpit, such as requiring a member of the cabin crew to enter the compartment if a pilot leaves.

Ota said the Abe administration had decided to consider taking steps on the matter, as the European agency had given “concrete instructions.”

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