What happened in the Airbus A320, the Germanwings Flight 9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf?
The latest news is reporting that German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, aged 28, “hijacked” the Airbus and deliberately killed 150 people. Prosecutor Brice Robin said,”The co-pilot is alone at the controls,” and “He voluntarily refused to open the door of the cockpit to the pilot and voluntarily began the descent of the plane.” The information from the black box confirms that he was breathing normally, suggesting he was conscious.
It is always so much easier to blame the “lone mad person”, but how and why would Mr Lubitz do such a thing?
Maybe he did crash the plane deliberately. He allegedly received psychiatric treatment for a “serious depressive episode” six years ago, and had to stop training because he was suffering depression and ‘burn-out’ (2008). Speaking outside the flat on the outskirts of Dusseldorf, police said they had found something that would now be taken for tests, adding it may be a ‘clue’ as to what happened to the doomed jet. Is this something medication? And there are suggestions that he was in a relationship break up.
But Klaus Radke, the head of the local flight club where Lubitz received his first flying licence, said “He was a completely normal guy.” (Note: Normal is a cycle on a washing machine)
I recall the strange suicide of English film director, Tony Scott (Top Gun, True Romance) – at the time 68, with his career in Hollywood still flying. He was in a great marriage and was apparently looking forward to shooting his next film, but then, leaps without hesitation from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles. His famous brother (Ridley), who would have been privy to the suicide notes, later reveals that Tony had inoperable brain cancer and killed himself – to spare his family. An autopsy allegedly did not pick up indications of cancer, but did find “therapeutic” levels of Mirtazipine (Remeron, an anti-depressant) and zopiclone (Lunesta), a “sleep-aid”, in his system.
And Lubitz? We await keenly to hear what the something is, that the Dusseldorf police have found.
“Documents with medical contents were confiscated that point towards an existing illness and corresponding treatment by doctors,” said the prosecutors’ office in Dusseldorf, where the pilot lived and where the flight from Barcelona was heading, reports Reuters.
“The fact there are sick notes saying he was unable to work, among other things, that were found torn up, which were recent and even from the day of the crime, support the assumption based on the preliminary examination that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and his professional colleagues,” they said.
The prosecutors said in a statement that the documents were found in searches of Lubitz’s homes in Duesseldorf and in the town of Montabaur in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
The Uniklinik hospital in Dusseldorf confirmed that it had treated Lubitz in recent weeks but said it was not for depression.”
A “Slow” Descent
But – why would someone intent on suicide and killing 149 people do this slowly – at a steady 3,000 feet per minute descent – for 8 to 9 minutes. That must have been excruciating. This murder/suicide conclusion might feel more convincing if Lubitz had plunged the plane into a deathly dive, and called out to the Captain banging on the door “Dies ist das Ende.” But all that is heard, is steady (conscious) breathing. Even when he must have heard an axe hacking at the door, Lubitz doesn’t steepen his dive. Even though he would have known that an upgrade to cockpit doors after 911 (to stop terrorism) would prevent the pilot from coming back into the cockpit, one would think that Lubitz would have instinctively steepened his dive.
The A320 is designed to allow emergency entry into the cockpit if a pilot inside is unresponsive, but a pilot (or terrorist) inside can deny entry. (video)
Other alleged pilot murder/suicides – Crash Descents.
The Germanwings crash is quite different to an incident in 1999 which many have been attributed to murder/suicide. Thirty minutes after takeoff from New York, the fully loaded Boeing 767 on route to Cairo, dropped from 36,000 feet to 19,000 feet in half a minute – an enormously fast dive that probably made the aircraft break up in several large pieces. At 19,000 feet the Boeing disappeared from radar and all 217 passengers and crew died. It is alleged the pilot , Gamal al-Batouti, had muttered an Arabic “I rely on God.”
The 1997 Silk Air crash is another case of likely (but disputed) pilot murder/suicide. The twinjet, piloted by Singaporean Tsu Way Ming, fell from 35,000 feet into an Indonesian river in one minute – a dive so fast that it reached supersonic speed before breaking up, killing 104.
But Lubitz allegedly just cruised slowly down over nine minutes – despite an alleged axe hacking at the door.
I cannot imagine what Lubritz’s parents must have gone through when they were quietly separated from the other grieving families in France – only to be told that their son was presumed a mass murderer.
Was Lubitz on medication?
I wrote yesterday before the medical information, that all options should be investigated. This was one:
Having watched several episodes of Derren Brown, I am always stunned at how easy it is to hypnotise someone to do something egregious. Brown proves that it is possible to mind control someone into assassination – demonstrating Sirhan Sirhan could have easily been “controlled” to assassinate U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. In the episode below, Brown trains a regular guy to “assassinate” actor Stephen Fry (without him ever knowing or remembering what he did). Watch from 42:15 and at 45 minutes.
How easy would it have been to instruct the “subject” into a trance and a mission with the words “going to the bathroom… take-over”. Lubitz seems to have been acting in a “detached” way, and a pilot with a history of “stress” would possibly be a good candidate for hypnosis.
Also his breathing (not panting) – for up to 9 minutes – was calm and always the same. Odd.
On the voice recorder, an impact is heard before the main impact. No further reports on this.
Rapid decompression, pilot error, (traditional) terrorism, technical error and other theories have been discounted. And I’m sure there would have been an easier way to target Yvonne Selke (a Booz Allen Hamilton employee) IF she was a target.
So in any murder investigation or crime, what could have been the motive?
Maybe Lubitz was effected by the pilot strike? I haven’t heard anywhere that the pilots of Lufthansa (the largest airline in Europe) were expected to go on strike last December (2014) after the failure of the retirement benefits negotiations. I don’t know if this included Germanwings, but there were allegedly eight pilot strikes since April 2014. Or maybe someone wants pilots to be under greater supervision.
Maybe it was just a mad loner – again.
We await for more information.