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EU warned Germany over safety control 'before Germanwings crash'

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By Alasdair Sandford  with Reuters, AFP, Wall Street Journal
EU warned Germany over safety control 'before Germanwings crash'

<p>It has been revealed that a European regulator found “issues” with Germany’s aviation authority over safety enforcement – reportedly before the Germanwings crash in the Alps.</p> <p>A <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-rebuked-germany-for-lax-airline-oversight-1428094581">report in the Wall Street Journal</a> said EU officials told Berlin last November to sort out long-standing staff shortages at the aviation authority, the Luftfahrtbundesamt (<span class="caps">LBA</span>), that could affect checks on planes and crew, including medical checks.</p> <p>Investigators continue to probe the background of the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz who is believed to have deliberately crashed the plane, and questions have been asked as to whether examinations of his suitability to fly were rigorous enough.</p> <p>Acknowledging that “issues” had been found, the European Commission <br /> said in an emailed statement: “On the basis of <span class="caps">EASA</span> (European Aviation Safety Agency) recommendations, the Commission has addressed the issues to Germany to require compliance. Germany’s replies are currently being assessed. </p> <p>“All EU member states have findings and this is a normal and regular occurrence. It is part of a continuous system of oversight: findings are followed by corrective action, similar to an audit process,” the Commission spokesman said, without specifying <span class="caps">EASA</span>’s findings in Germany.</p> <p>A spokeswoman for the <span class="caps">LBA</span> said <span class="caps">EASA</span>’s audits of national aviation authorities such as the <span class="caps">LBA</span> took place several times a year. She said the <span class="caps">LBA</span> had answered a single-figure number of criticisms levelled at it during the audits and those responses were now being assessed by <span class="caps">EASA</span>.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-04/eu-had-issues-with-german-aviation-body-before-recent-crash">German transport ministry has reportedly said</a> that the concerns have no connection to the Germanwings crash.</p> <p>Police in France say recovery efforts from the crash site of the Germanwings plane in the Alps have been suspended – at least for the weekend – as the authorities already have most of what they need.</p> <p>A private firm has been hired to remove parts of the plane on site and are expected to begin their work late next week.</p> <p>Last week the authorities said they had recovered the second black box recorder, and enough human remains to do <span class="caps">DNA</span> analysis.</p> <p>At the foot of the mountain, police vans shielded a memorial to the victims from view on Saturday, to protect the privacy of the families and friends who are expected to visit and grieve over Easter weekend.</p>