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EU sets up cockpit safety task force after Germanwings crash

The European Commission announced Thursday it had set up a special task force to review cockpit safety rules after the co-pilot deliberately crashed a Gemanwings flight in March, killing all 150 on board.

The Commission, the executive of the 28-nation EU, said it had asked the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to follow up on a preliminary French report published Wednesday.

“There is a whole series of rules in place but the task force is going to look at them and see what more might be needed,” Commission spokesman Jakub Adamowicz told a news conference, adding its first meeting would take place Thursday in Brussels.

The task force would examine “the cockpit door locking system and cockpit access and exit procedures, as well as the criteria and procedures applied to the medical monitoring of pilots,” the Commission said in a statement.

French investigators said Wednesday that 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings flight, deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps after “rehearsing” the manoeuvre on the outbound trip from Dusseldorf to Barcelona.

On the return leg, Lubitz locked the cockpit door after the pilot left to go to the toilet and then put the plane into a steep descent.

Air traffic controllers in the southern French city of Marseille called the plane 11 times and the air force also tried but without response.

The cockpit recorder revealed the pilot’s frantic efforts to re-enter the cockpit which is protected by a heavily re-inforced to prevent hijackings.