BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Broomstick » 2015-03-26 04:27am

Um... no.

First, the sources on that are anonymous and not official, so I view them with suspicion. It's one thing for us random internet people to speculate, it's another for anyone connected with the investigation to do so, much less leak info to reporters.

Second, all we know from that is that one pilot exited the cockpit and couldn't get back in. Perhaps the other pilot was incapacitated - it's rare, but pilots have dropped dead/stroked out mid-flight. Not that we're likely to recover enough of the pilot to do an autopsy.

If the intent was suicide a pilot could have put the plane into a much, much steeper dive and gotten it over with that much quicker and decisively. The recorded descent was nowhere near the extreme an A321 is capable of.

That's why I want the FDR found - was the autopilot on or off? What were the human inputs? What was the airplane's computer system doing?

I don't know Germanwings' exact procedures, but many airliners require two people in the cockpit at all times, with a flight attendant taking the place of a pilot if a pilot needs to leave in order to prevent lock-outs - does Germanwings follow that, and if so, where was that other person and why didn't he/she try to open the door? There is normally an over-ride procedure of the cockpit door locks, again, to prevent lock-outs, was it attempted in this case or not?

I know it's viscerally satisfying to leap to a conclusion and blame the pilot flying the airplane but we really should take a step back and try to investigate all possibilities. It could be suicide, it could be something else.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Thanas » 2015-03-26 07:16am

Official press conference in roughly 15 minutes, 11:30 GMT

Press conference from Lufthansa/Germanwings at 13:30 GMT.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Thanas » 2015-03-26 07:47am

Transcript:

Copilot was alone in cockpit
Copilot did act with clear purpose to initiate descent (Edit: by manipulating autopilot)
Pilot was locked out, tried to get in, no response from copilot
Copilot was still breathing until the impact EDIT: By Q&A, prosecutors clarified it was normal breathing, not from somebody suffering a heart attack or health crisis
Marseilles tower tried to contact plane
Marselles tower called for several minutes, , no response from Copilot
Other planes tried to contact Airbus, no response
Clear terrain warning system sounded
Locked out Pilot tried to break in the door, emergency measures to get into the door were unsuccessful - most likely because copilot had engaged anti-terrorist locks.


All evidence points to clear, premeditated murder of all passengers by the copilot.


EDIT2: The marseilles prosecutors blamed the anti-terror lock as being the reason the Pilot could not get back in, normal doors would have easily prevented this.
EDIT3:
- Passenger screams are clearly heard before the impact
- Emergency access code to the cockpit door failed to open the door, as the code still requires action on part of cockpit inhabitants to open the door and is just an identification code.

EDIT 4: German and French prosecutors are now treating this as a criminal investigation.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Zaune » 2015-03-26 08:01am

Fucking hell.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Thanas » 2015-03-26 08:09am

For those who leaped towards the "KURDS AND MUSLIMS DID IT" immediately, copilot was named as Andreas Lubitz. Looks very German.


EDIT: So far, there is no connection to terrorist groups.

EDIT2: Considering the pilot was breathing normally, locked the pilot out and did not respond to several minutes of calls by the locked out Pilot, radio calls by both ground and other planes as well as the clear "terrain" warnings by the plane, the prosecutor has no option but to call this a "voluntary destruction of the aircraft".
EDIT3: The inputs the copilot made are clearly heard, there is no chance of the computer just malfunctioning.
EDIT4: Prosecutor Robin looks visibily disturbed when he speaks of the need to "reassemble the remains of the bodies". No wonder.
EDIT5: Jeezus, this one asshole reporter keeps asking about the details of the procedures to recover the bodies. Prosecutor just responds by crossing his arms and hands it over to the officer in charge of the emergency services. Good on him.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Thanas » 2015-03-26 08:26am

Lubitz was also recognized previously by inclusion in the FAA certification database.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is recognizing Andreas Guenter Lubitz with inclusion in the prestigious FAA Airmen Certification Database.

The database, which appears on the agency's website at www.faa.gov, names Lubitz and other certified pilots who have met or exceeded the high educational, licensing and medical standards established by the FAA.

Pilot certification standards have evolved over time in an attempt to reduce pilot errors that lead to fatal crashes. FAA standards, which are set in consultation with the aviation industry and the public, are among the highest in the world.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Thanas » 2015-03-26 10:01am

Highlights from the Lufthansa press conference:
Spohr addresses the issue of cockpit saftey. “What has happened here is a tragic individual event,” he says. “We are trying to deal with an enigma.” No systems could prevent such an event, he says.

He acknowledges that, in response to terror threats, cockpit doors have been reinforced such that they cannot be opened even “by weapons”. The doors can only be opened by pilots using a code that all air crew know off by heart. But this can be over-ridden from the cockpit. So even if the pilot entered the code in the dorr from the outside, the co-pilot would have been able to press a button that deployed a five-minute over-ride.
I think this removes any doubt. The copilot must have been conscious and willing to prevent the over-ride. This was murder.
Spohr is asked whether Germanwings or Lufthansa protocols provide for a second member of the flight crew to be in the cockpit if one of the pilots leaves. He says that the company does not have such a protocol, that European regulations do not require it, and that he is not aware of any of the company’s competitors that have such a procedure.

Asked by the New York Times whether the pilot did anything wrong by leaving the cockpit, Spohr said that he did not.
Spohr also said that Lufthansa and Germanwings have the same spare parts, maintenance and safety procedures despite Germanwings being a low-cost airline.


EDIT: Wow, the US press is too dense to even have a German interpreter present. Third time they ask a question that has already been asked and answered in German.
I wondered how they were following the rest of the conference.

EDIT2: The co-pilot was a company man, first started at flight attendant and then worked his way up from the ranks. By all accounts, a very good and dependable worker. All psychological tests showed no abnormalities.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Thanas » 2015-03-26 10:17am

German security services confirm that there was no file on him, all security checks show no links to any criminal or terrorist organizations.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Zaune » 2015-03-26 10:21am

Thanas wrote:I think this removes any doubt. The copilot must have been conscious and willing to prevent the over-ride. This was murder.
Either that or mental illness. I mean, he was what, 26? The typical age for the onset of many psychiatric disorders is "adolescence and early adulthood" if you believe the DSM-V, so that'd only make him a mildly late bloomer.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Thanas » 2015-03-26 10:22am

He was 28.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Zaune » 2015-03-26 10:24am

Huh. Still, my point stands.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Patroklos » 2015-03-26 12:23pm

One thing that is chilling is that this probably couldn't have been a planned event as in this plane, these people. It's not a long flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf so there is no way he could have anticipated the pilot leaving the cockpit. It was either a snap decision when an opportunity presented itself, the craziness of that being horrifying or he had planned to do something like this for quite a while, going from flight to flight waiting until he was alone and these passenger/strangers are just the random ones that suffered. That random callousness of that is breathtaking. Did he watch them board as pilots often do? Smile back at them?

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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Thanas » 2015-03-26 12:37pm

The french are handling the ghouls very well:
“I won’t do any description of what my guys saw on the ground. It is not a show. We have to respect the victims,” the commander said. His team “arrived and felt a sense of cold. … The mission is not easy but they are soldiers.”
French scene commander to reporters.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2015-03-26 02:00pm

I remember predicting this was going to happen 14 years ago way back in the ASVS days when we demanded those doors and refused to consider mandatory arming of the aircraft crew like it was normal for even passenger liners to have an arms locker for the officers at sea a hundred years ago. So far the only successful terrorist defence to come out of the entire raft of legislation in the wake of 9/11 has been... Nothing. Passengers immediately ganging up on and beating down anyone acting strangely has been the only thing to stop terrorist acts on airplanes. Of course, to be honest, a conventional firearm could easily wreck the controls if the person with it aboard was suicidal, but we must be able to come up with an alternative incapacitation weapon that isn't.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by phongn » 2015-03-26 02:09pm

The Duchess of Zeon wrote:I remember predicting this was going to happen 14 years ago way back in the ASVS days when we demanded those doors and refused to consider mandatory arming of the aircraft crew like it was normal for even passenger liners to have an arms locker for the officers at sea a hundred years ago. So far the only successful terrorist defence to come out of the entire raft of legislation in the wake of 9/11 has been... Nothing. Passengers immediately ganging up on and beating down anyone acting strangely has been the only thing to stop terrorist acts on airplanes. Of course, to be honest, a conventional firearm could easily wreck the controls if the person with it aboard was suicidal, but we must be able to come up with an alternative incapacitation weapon that isn't.
They could just mandate the "two person rule" like most US carriers do.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2015-03-26 02:18pm

phongn wrote:
The Duchess of Zeon wrote:I remember predicting this was going to happen 14 years ago way back in the ASVS days when we demanded those doors and refused to consider mandatory arming of the aircraft crew like it was normal for even passenger liners to have an arms locker for the officers at sea a hundred years ago. So far the only successful terrorist defence to come out of the entire raft of legislation in the wake of 9/11 has been... Nothing. Passengers immediately ganging up on and beating down anyone acting strangely has been the only thing to stop terrorist acts on airplanes. Of course, to be honest, a conventional firearm could easily wreck the controls if the person with it aboard was suicidal, but we must be able to come up with an alternative incapacitation weapon that isn't.
They could just mandate the "two person rule" like most US carriers do.
Some people are also seriously demanding 3-man crews, which would allow eliminating the moment of vulnerability if the swap-out isn't managed well, but the cost of that would be fought so hard by the airlines that I considered some kind of guns somewhat more plausible to be adopted.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by phongn » 2015-03-26 02:28pm

The Duchess of Zeon wrote: Some people are also seriously demanding 3-man crews, which would allow eliminating the moment of vulnerability if the swap-out isn't managed well, but the cost of that would be fought so hard by the airlines that I considered some kind of guns somewhat more plausible to be adopted.
Just barricade the area with a galley cart (AA does that) during the crew swap.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2015-03-26 02:40pm

I suppose all airplanes in the future could just be built with a lavatory inside the sealed cockpit, but that wouldn't actually address the current fleet for decades of turnover. I was in fact actually thinking that it was something of an industrial engineering problem. If your procedure is good enough, replacing the pilot with the lead steward should be flawless in swaps. I would however like to at least see mandatory unarmed combat training for anyone whose job it is to take over being the second person. Anyone whose suicide involves killing 150 innocent people probably won't be deterred by human interaction. That's a different stage of suicide than normal suicide, it's much more equivalent to being a school shooter.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Irbis » 2015-03-26 02:57pm

All of this strikes me as band-aids on flawed, knee jerk solution that was wrong in the first place, namely the door lock. Band-aids that will cease to work as soon as someone gets creative. Mandate two people in a cockpit? Last time I checked, something like garotte is undetectable, and killing someone strapped in a seat or even just sitting requires only tiny moment of surprise. Or hell, 'Joker trick' with a pen. Mandatory unarmed combat training for substitute? Great, and what you do if it's trained substitute that turns crazy and is now alone in cockpit with older pilot? Guns? Same problem, madman with access to one will just kill both pilots, game over.

Maybe solution is just coming back to open doors, really, anyone wanting to hijack plane has to go through attendant crew plus alarmed passengers first before reaching pilots anyway. Had this policy been on this plane, captain and attendants would have wrested control back. Couple it with mandatory gender parity and fitness tests in air crews (to ensure not all are young, useless eye candy) and call it a day.

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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Sky Captain » 2015-03-26 03:01pm

It seems airline industry has come to a point where air travel is so safe that when there is fatal crash it is likely a cause is something bizarre like Malaysian plane which flew into Indian ocean and disappeared or in this case copilot committing suicide.
In this case reinforced doors while reducing chances of terrorist taking over control are introducing another failure point by preventing crew to quickly get into cockpit if copilot decides to lock himself in and crash or some other freak accident happens.

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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Patroklos » 2015-03-26 03:02pm

In the end you can't defend against everything. At least not on the airplane itself. There is nothing stopping someone of this guys disposition from throwing his car across the median into oncoming traffic for instance and we are not about to engineer that possibility away either. If you told the people designing these doors ten year ago "but what about suicidal pilots!" I am sure the answer would be similar.

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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Thanas » 2015-03-26 03:04pm

If we go back to non-reinforced doors, then all that will happen is that the perpetrator will put the plane into a stronger nosedive. I mean, this one Singaporean captain put the plane into such a dive that the wings broke off in seconds. There is nothing that will stop anybody from crashing the plane if they want to, you just gotta trust the pilots.
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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Grumman » 2015-03-26 03:07pm

Isn't the best solution to just get rid of the override? In what scenario is it necessary for one pilot to lock the other out of the cockpit, and have enough forewarning to do so?

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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Patroklos » 2015-03-26 03:11pm

Its not just the pilot that can get into the cockpit, I believe the rest of the crew can get in as well so someone could take a steward hostage for instance. All the crew can't be segregated from the passengers. Just an example where a pilot might want to keep other normally authorized people out.

As to violent maneuvers that snap off wings why is that even possible? In the case of an airliner where drastic maneuvers are rarely necessary could you someone restrict the degree of maneuver a pilot can make? Perhaps give a copilot time to react?

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Re: BREAKING: Airbus A320 crashes in Alps

Post by Thanas » 2015-03-26 03:28pm

Patroklos wrote:Its not just the pilot that can get into the cockpit, I believe the rest of the crew can get in as well so someone could take a steward hostage for instance. All the crew can't be segregated from the passengers. Just an example where a pilot might want to keep other normally authorized people out.
One might restrict a special override to pilot and copilot only, but then hitchhikers could wait for the pilot to exit the cockpit, so not sure if it would be worth the hassle.
As to violent maneuvers that snap off wings why is that even possible? In the case of an airliner where drastic maneuvers are rarely necessary could you someone restrict the degree of maneuver a pilot can make? Perhaps give a copilot time to react?
How? You sometimes need to violently maneuver the plane. Case in point - if your aircraft is in a stall you need to get the nose down quickly, so you push hard down. If this continues it could put the plane into a spin. So what would you rather have? Prevent quick stall recovery (which could eventually turn into a spin) and risk the plane stalling?
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