Germanwings crashed flight: More investigation is needed before definite conclusions

It seems it was a deliberate attempt to crash Germanwings plane by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. But… Read few comments.

Nektarios KaranikasSenior Lecturer – Researcher Aviation Safety and Human Factors in the Aviation Academy, Amsterdam University of Applied Science

Aviation safety professionals and accident investigators find irresponsible to make quick judgement about a safety event and draw conclusions prior collecting all data, analysing evidence and synthesize them. The article you referred to presents scattered information that still do not make sense as a whole because up to know we only have some “what’s” about the accident and not any “why’s” and “how’s”. For example, the fact that one pilot was locked out the cockpit is atypical and worrying, but we must first investigate the causes and reasons for this (e.g., pilot behaviour or incapacitation due to a health problem, fumes, depressurization). I understand the agony of the public view, but misinterpreting data based on our preconceptions and biases might lead to mistaken conclusions, such as deliberate aircraft crash. Of course, I cannot reject the latter case, but at the same time I cannot accept it. We need some more time for the accident investigation to gather data and release the preliminary report. We must keep in mind that investigators are equally concerned about revealing all factors contributed to an accident because they and their close persons use aircrafts too. So, let’s trust them and wait for their conclusions.

Manoj Patankar, Professor, Executive Director at the Center for Aviation Safety Research, Saint Louis University

I think it’s still too early to call it a deliberate attempt. Often during an investigation, available information changes. Such allegations are serious and should not be perpetuated without thorough validation. I am skeptical!

Lori Brown, Associate Professor, Western Michigan University, College of Aviation

Yes- this Germanwings crash is tragic. Although we do not know why a pilot would be inspired to take the life of the passengers is not something we can understand or comprehend. However, one interesting underlying factor that has come out is the lack of standardization among countries. Two poignant examples from this crash are:
1. Cockpit door procedures – in the US we have to always have 2 people in the cockpit, which means a flight attendant would take the place of the pilot who leaves the cockpit.
2. Any pilot including co pilot (first officers) must be Airline Transport pilots and have a minimum of 1500 hours of flight time to be hired and the co pilot of German wings only had 628 hours. This is not to say he would not be capable of safely flying the aircraft on his own, it points to lack of standardization and harmonization among countries.

We all share the same airspace, and will require continued efforts to improve safety and highlights the importance of adhering to a globally harmonized approach to improving and monitoring safety. This global harmonized approach will become increasingly important as we see shifts in global population with 80% of aviation growth predicted in China and India over the next 20 years.

Interesting that before the crash many were asking if the door was too secure, in that the pilot could not get back in. In the US some aircraft have an additional reinforced bar (security bars) which the pilot can put in the locked position.

Additionally, there is a crash ax in the cockpit which can be used to break down the door frame in the event of a fire if the door is locked and pilots can not get out. United actually accelerated the installation of these additional security bars to meet the FAA mandate in the US- again this is not standardized globally.

Jeffrey Price, Professor, Department of Aviation and Aerospace Science, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Owner of Leading Edge Strategies

This is both nearly impossible to avoid but also easy to solve. In the U.S., a flight attendant is required to be in the cockpit whenever one of the pilots is out. This allows the pilot-flying to stay at the controls and let the other pilot back in when he or she returns. This also puts one more person in the cockpit should the pilot decide to do something destructive in nature.

But, if the person operating the plane decides to bring it down, incapacitating the pilot (or flight attendant) next to them isn’t that hard to anyone willing to do a little bit of violence. There’s not much more to be done at that point that’s affordable, practical and sustainable.

Shawn PruchnickiResearch Coordinator/Lecturer, Center for Aviation Studies, Ohio State University

Unfortunately this happened before. Very hard to protect against. How do you design security procedures and hardware (door) that keep unwanted people out but yet also could be used against the employees and very passengers that it is designed to protect from nefarious individuals?

So is the solution to examine screening of new employees? Are we doing that the best way possible? I think it is plausible that despite the best testing possible, whatever that may be, this will always remain a risk. Very, very hard to protect against.

John Cox, Chief Executive Officer, Safety Operating Systems

It is very sad to hear that the actions of the First Officer were intentional. I am nearly speechless. The concept of a professional pilot committing such an act is unimaginable to me.


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