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Local airlines to make changes to cockpit procedures from today

Local carriers will make changes to their cockpit procedures to ensure at least two persons are in the cockpit at all times, following the crash of Germanwings flight 4U9525 last week.

Reports allege that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who is said to have been treated previously for suicidal tendencies, deliberately crashed the plane into a mountain, killing all 150 onboard. The cockpit recordings have also revealed that the flight's captain Patrick Sonderheimer was locked out of the cockpit by Mr Lubitz, who ignored his pleas to be let back in.

A spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said on Tuesday that it has been in talks with all Singapore carriers to implement procedures to ensure at least two persons are in the cockpit at any given time "to deter malicious acts".

"All Singapore carriers have informed CAAS that they will be implementing these procedures by 1 April," she added.

Budget carrier Jestar Asia was the first to announce changes to its operations, which it says comes after consulting local regulators. The Singapore-based budget carrier will now have two authorised operating crew in the cockpit at all times in-flight.

"During flight, before one pilot needs to leave the cockpit for any reason, an operating crew member will enter and remain on the flight deck until the pilot returns," said Jetstar Asia. "The safety and security of our customers and crew are our number one priority."

On any given flight, Jetstar Asia - which operates a fleet of 18 Airbus A320 aircraft - could have two or three operating pilots and up to six cabin crew onboard.

Meanwhile, budget carrier Tiger Airways said it requires two authorised persons in the flight deck at all times. "We have strict procedures in place regarding the security and manning levels of our flight deck and adhere to industry best practices," the airline stressed.

In response to queries from BT, a spokesman for Singapore Airlines (SIA), said: "SIA is in compliance with all regulatory requirements put in place by the relevant aviation authorities. We have strict procedures in place regarding the security of our cockpits, but as a matter of policy we do not comment publicly on security matters."

Germanwings, a unit of German flag carrier Lufthansa, could end up facing large legal claims as a result of the crash, reports say, even if it emerges the pilot hid a medical condition from his employer.

This comes at a challenging time for Lufthansa, which is already grappling with pilot strikes, high operating costs and sliding air fares. The tragic incident also calls into question its ambitions to expand its low-cost operations.