March 31, 2015 / 12:32 PM / 5 years ago

Psychological profiling, doors focus of French Germanwings probe

BERLIN/PARIS, March 31 (Reuters) - French air accident authority BEA said its probe into the Germanwings crash would study “systemic weaknesses” that might have led to the disaster, such as psychological profiling and cockpit door locks.

Also on Tuesday, lawyers representing some of the families of those killed called for a review of the rules on psychiatric assessment of pilots.

French prosecutors believe 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit and set the plane on a course to slam into a remote mountainside, killing all 150 onboard.

German state prosecutors have found evidence that Lubitz suffered from suicidal tendencies before getting his pilot’s licence and that he had recently been signed off sick from work, though he did not inform his employers.

“The Safety Investigation will be oriented towards the cockpit door locking system logic and cockpit access and exit procedures, as well as the criteria and procedures applied to detect specific psychological profiles,” BEA said in a short statement on Tuesday.

France’s BEA carries out civil crash investigations focusing solely identifying safety measures that would prevent future accidents. It does not try to attribute blame.

The statement indicates the two areas where the BEA is most likely to make safety recommendations that could affect the whole aviation industry

The BEA said it would conduct a detailed analysis of the cockpit voice recorder, plus any other flight data available. The second black box with the flight data recorder has not yet been found.

London-based law firm Irwin Mitchell said it had been contacted for help by the families of those killed in the crash.

“An incident of this nature calls into question whether airlines should implement additional testing by a psychiatric specialist, and whether this should be made compulsory by aviation authorities across the world,” Jim Morris, a partner at Irwin Mitchell’s aviation team, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The large scale catastrophic consequences of what can go wrong when a pilot is not mentally fit enough have been starkly demonstrated this week,” said Morris, a former pilot with Britain’s Royal Air Force.

Lufthansa, parent company of Germanwings, has said Lubitz had passed suitability tests and the annual medical check.

Lufthansa’s insurers have set aside $300 million to deal with the claims arising from the crash, the airline said on Tuesday, confirming a Reuters report.

European airlines have swiftly moved to change cockpit rules to require two crew members to be in the cockpit at all times. (Reporting by Victoria Bryan; additional reporting by Andrew Callus and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Jon Boyle and Tom Heneghan)

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