As Troubling Reports on Germanwings 4A9525 Emerge, We Look At Related Facts

The New York Times has published a report, quoting an anonymous Senior Military Official, who claims that the cockpit voice recorder on the A320 which flew 4A9525   reveals that one of the pilots was locked out of the cockpit of the aircraft.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer.”

He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”

NYTimes

For its part, Germanwings’ parent company, Lufthansa, has stated: “We have no information that can confirm The New York Times report.”

Without confirmation from officials on the record, it is difficult to know what to make of this. The BEA was clear during its press conference yesterday evening that it would not rush to report on the contents of the flight data recorder. Indeed, it would be unusual for an investigating authority to release information to the public without first addressing it with fellow investigators and key parties involved in the investigation.

I’m loathe to break my rule on speculation, but we there are pertinent facts which could support a theory that the crash of Germanwings 4A9525 was not caused by a technical fault, nor even by pilot incapacitation. I share those related facts below, with the understanding that the claims of the New York Times’ source are still unverified.

  • We know that original reports that an emergency call placed from the aircraft were revealed later in the day of the incident to have come from ATC, not from the aircraft.
  • We also know that the aircraft issued no Squawk code which would indicate an emergency.

  • It has also come to light that French airforce fighter jets were deployed to meet the aircraft when the ATC was unable to reach the cockpit.

  • We know the descent–verified by the BEA–is unusual. It is not indicative of a systems failure, and the BEA has said the path, speed and concentration of debris leads them to believe the aircraft flew straight into the mountainside.

  • Further revelations of the Cockpit door function and procedures, as recorded by Airbus, belie theories that remaining pilot in the cockpit was incapacitated. If that had been the case, the system would have allowed the other pilot to enter.

All this information is significant, if the New York Times report is proven to be true.

We await further confirmation from approved sources. Readers should note that, if these claims are true, neither the airline or the BEA would necessarily be eager to speak on the record about it. They will be obligated to conduct further internal investigations before speaking publicly on the matter. However, one might expect that, if this is information is false, it will be denied this morning.

More perspective follows:

Because of the fast-moving nature of developments in this story, my first updates are through Twitter.

While those, and related reports appear on the home page of this site, readers are invited to follow me @designerjet to be keep up-to-date. You are also invited to pose any questions on this tragedy, as facts emerge in coming days.

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