After the Germanwings Crash

On March 24, 2015, Germanwings Flight 9525 left Barcelona's El Prat Airport en route to Dusseldorf, Germany.   The plane, an Airbus A320-211 carrying 144 passengers and six crew members showed no problems until passing the French coast near Toulon when it began descending rapidly.  After air traffic control failed to regain radio contact,  a French Mirage jet was deployed though radar contact was lost.   The airplane crashed in the area of Prads-Haute-Bleone near the city of Nice.   Everyone on board the plane was killed with search and rescue crews finding wreckage spread over two kilometers.   It was the deadliest air disaster in France of the last thirty years.

Only after locating the plane's two flight recorders were investigators able to piece together what had happened to cause the crash.   According to the cockpit voice recorder, the plane's co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, showed no signs of instability until Captain Patrick Sondenheimer returned from a washroom break to find the cockpit door locked.   Though the captain attempted to disable the lock using a special code, this had been disabled from the cockpit controls and Lubitz refused to respond when asked to open the door.   After setting the autopilot to begin descent, Lubitz refused to respond to air traffic control and also failed to send out a distress call.    The recording also picked up the increasing frantic pleas of Captain Sondenheimer and Lubitz' steady breathing.   Nothing else was heard except the screams of the passengers just before crashing.


To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.


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