A pilot's bathroom break shouldn't bring down a jet, readers say

The chilling details of Germanwings Flight 9525's final moments have prompted several readers to suggest ways to prevent another tragedy like the one that unfolded Tuesday over France, in which, investigators believe, the first officer steered the A320 jet into the Alps after the captain left the cockpit to use the lavatory.

After past crashes, much of the post-accident attention focused on complicated systems that might have malfunctioned or could be improved to guard against pilot error. But with concern over some recent accidents involving egregious pilot ineptness or malice, more basic questions are now being asked. These letters reflect that.


Larry Gardner of Los Angeles endorses en suite lavatories for pilots:

It's shocking and dismaying that the first officer apparently crashed his plane on purpose, killing 149 others along with him. What I would like to know is why do pilots have to leave the cockpit to use a lavatory?

In modern large commercial aircraft, a small lavatory could probably be built into the cockpit. It need not take up much room, just a ceramic toilet and small door, with a lock only inside.

Pilots should not have to leave the cockpits and walk to a public lavatory; they should have their own nearby. How much effort for designers and plane manufacturers would it take to accomplish this?

One hundred and fifty are dead because, in part, someone had to use the bathroom.

Woodland Hills resident Steve Shaevel recommends special cockpit access for pilots:

Flight deck doors are locked to prevent unauthorized people from entering. But now we must allow a pilot to get back into the cockpit after a visit to the restroom or galley if the door somehow gets locked. This can be done via a special key, keypad, card key entry or some other higher security mechanism.

I know federal regulators and the airlines can figure out how to do this and prevent another such event.

Matthew Barry of Issaquah, Wash., wants an extra set of lenses on the flight deck:

It's time for the federal government to require real-time video feeds. The National Transportation Safety Board recommended video cameras 15 years ago.

Since then, we've had several plane crashes, including the four hijacked 9/11 planes. In 2009, Air France Flight 447 slammed into the Atlantic, killing 228. For two years, no one knew why until the so-called black boxes were found on the ocean floor.

The voice recorder from the Germanwings flight that crashed into the French Alps was damaged. If it had been unusable, we would never have known that the pilot was banging on the cockpit door.

Malaysia Flight 370, with 239 aboard, disappeared in 2014 and has never been found. No one knows what happened.

Video would eliminate almost all the guessing. It would provide clear answers to grieving relatives. It would help the industry prevent similar accidents in the future through improved technology and pilot training, saving many lives.


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