On Tuesday, March 24, a plane en route from Barcelona, Spain to Dusseldorf, Germany, crashed in the French Alps. There were 144 passengers on the plane and six crew-members, according to CNN. No one survived.
Passengers included citizens from 18 countries, 72 of whom were from Germany and 35 who were from Spain. There were two opera singers on board, 16 students and two teachers on a class trip, a mother and daughter from Virginia, a Columbian architect, as well as many others.
A black box was recovered that same day from the crash sight, and it was determined that the 4U 9525 airbus operated by Lufthansa’s Germanwings budget airline crashed at 10:53, 52 minutes after the plane had taken off.
The plane had just reached its cruising level of 38,000 feet when an eight-minute descent started. The plane lost contact with French radar at 6,000 feet and a few minutes later the plane crashed in the French Alps, The New York Times stated. According to Flightradar24, someone in the cockpit changed the plane’s altitude to be at 100 feet.
The crash was thought to have been an accident, until it was revealed on Thursday that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz crashed the plane deliberately. When the other pilot stepped out of the cockpit, Lubitz locked the door and did not let him back in, according to Buzzfeed News. The plane’s cockpit audio recorder captured banging on the door, screams from the passengers, and steady breathing in the cockpit, meaning that the co-pilot was alive at the time of the crash.
Officials tore through Lubitz’s apartment and parent’s house on Thursday looking for clues. It was discovered that Lubitz was hiding an illness from his employer, and a doctor deemed him unfit to work. According to a profile of the pilot from CNN, “Lubitz passed a psychological test when he was hired, had no known ties to terrorism and showed no sign of medical distress during the flight.”
Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, said in a statement, “We at Lufthansa are speechless that this aircraft has been deliberately crashed by the co-pilot.”
There are speculations that this crash could have been avoided. This is because, as USA Today reported, there is a rule that if a pilot leaves the cockpit at any time, a flight attendant has to remain in the cockpit until the pilot returns. This rule does not exist in many European countries, which is why Lubitz was able to lock his co-pilot out of the cockpit.
The technology used to lock the cockpit was created after 9/11 to protect pilots from terrorist attacks, but in this case, it backfired to create a horrible event. Even if the pilot is locked out, there is a keypad that he/she can use to regain entry into the cockpit, according to USA Today. However, anyone on the inside can prevent the door from unlocking with the toggle switch, which everyone now realizes is a huge breach in security.
Officials are wracking their brains trying to figure out why Lubitz wanted to destroy the plane. The good news is that when the airplane crashed in the mountains, death was instantaneous, according to CNN. This means that no one had to suffer, but unfortunately it means that there were no way there could have been any survivors.