Germanwings Update: Co-Pilot Had Practiced the Crash on Previous Flight



The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 apparently practiced and rehearsed the maneuver, before crashing the plane into the French Alps. As per the French civil aviation investigators, from the Bureau of Investigations and Analyses, B.E.A. in its French abbreviation, Andreas Lubitz had rehearsed the sharp descent on a previous flight. This finding, which is both socking and scary, was revealed Wednesday, May 6.

According to the report, Lubitz had rehearsed the descent maneuver on an international flight which was going from Düsseldorf, Germany to Barcelona, Spain. Also, it has been shared that since there was no noticeable effect of his actions on this flight, the 27-year-old Lubitz, followed through with the dastardly act on the returning flight by crashing it into the mountains. As the action did not grab anybody’s attention at Air Traffic Control (ATC) or Germanwings officials, they were unaware of the co-pilot’s intentions, and did not detain Lubitz for his actions. The crash of Germanwings plane on March 24 killed all the 150 passengers and crew on board.

It has also been stated in the preliminary reports that when the flight’s captain was temporarily out of the cockpit, the maneuvers took place, and were captured in the plane’s flight data recorder. Rémi Jouty, the director of the B.E.A., said that it was clear that it was a rehearsal before the actual crash. This is when the co-pilot had practiced the string of steps which led to Germanwings plane crash. On the flight returning from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, the exact same actions were repeated in the same circumstances when the pilot was out of the cockpit, and Lubitz was left alone.

This evidence further clarifies that the crash of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 which was an Airbus A320, was intentional. The foul play angle was being reviewed since the initial findings of the investigation were shared, and the cockpit audio recordings were retrieved. It has been reported at length after revelations made by the German police, that Lubitz had a history of severe depression for years. He had also searched the internet for ways of committing suicide just days before he crashed the plane. Apart from this, Lubitz had earlier sought help from psychiatrists and doctors for his depression. Germanwings, a company owned by Lufthansa, chose to neglect these clear tell-tale signs that he was unfit to fly.

The report shared by BEA indicates that Lubitz’s rehersal for the plane crash was so quick and momentary, that it did not catch the attention of the controllers. Also, the ATC had directed the plane to be descended moderately from 37,000 feet to 35,000 feet. Patrick Sondenheimer, the captain of the flight, who was out of the cockpit for close to five minutes, did not notice the maneuvers which occurred around 20 minutes into the flight which was headed to Barcelona. During the pilot’s absence from the cockpit, Lubitz had chosen a target altitude of 100 feet multiple times for very short durations ranging from a few seconds to close to three minutes.

The team of investigators was absolutely clear about their findings and Lubitz’s role in the Germanwings crash, as he had practiced the sharply descending maneuver on the previous flight. Though, they chose not to explain what was going on in the co-pilot’s mind. It was mentioned by Jouty that based on the information available so far, it can be categorically stated that the crash was a result of an intentional act, caused by a series of steps taken, which point in the same direction. The control inputs on both the flights share stark similarities. It is also clear that Lubitz intentionally changed the instructions in auto pilot mode to make the Germanwings plane descend sharply and collide with the French Alps.

(This article is Part of a series of investigative reports about the Germanwings crash. Please check out the series here- Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)

By Ankur Sinha

The New York Times
The Times Of India

Photo by Liam McManus–Creativecommons Flickr License