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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

Old 30th Mar 2015, 00:43
  #2601 (permalink)  
 
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Playing catch-up

A0283 - quite a post, and many thanks for it - would my understanding of your overall message (or a part of it, at least) be correct, if I summarize it as asserting the view that the international investigatory apparatus has been "overtaken by events"? With the contemporary state of saturation of media - electronic only, as well as more traditional tv and print journos now propagating electronically - the time for officialdom to find the black boxes, do the analysis, issue the report....that time has not only shrunk, it has essentially evaporated.
As to your larger theme about the state of affairs in the French system.....and while I am not reaching for my Public International Air Law textbook less than 2 feet away ..... I think it is accurate to say that neither the Chicago Convention itself, nor any of its various machinery such as Annexes and SARPs, trump or override or hold supremacy over, national law. And so I think, were the question to be framed within an ICAO lens, how does a State criminal investigation need to be coordinated with the inquiry conducted by that State's CAA - I think that is a matter for the State to decide, on its own. I tend to agree, the understanding of how France sees the two tracks, the CAA and the criminal, moving sensibly forward, is not immediately obvious, or perhaps entirely discernible at all.
Where this incident (what a horrible word to use, but avoiding "accident" seems wise, since that word denotes a lack of intent, but an intentional act on present "information" seems likely) will get very, very complicated legally is when questions such as the choice of applicable civil law arise, and even, the appropriate place to file suit. These types of questions - known to aviation (and aerospace - or if it is preferred, air and space) attorneys as "choice of law" and "forum non conveniens", respectively, are among the most convoluted in the entire body of law applicable here. And, with the twisted facts of this incident....once again, the old favorite of a law professor is the best summation: hard cases make bad law.
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 00:48
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Do we know that anyone *tried* to unlock the door after the initial 5 minutes?

If things were getting as hectic as we've heard, I can imagine them stopping trying that and just trying to beat the door down. It *could be* that the door would have unlocked if only they'd tried the code towards the end.

We'll only know for sure when the investigation is complete. Claiming "facts" now is almost certainly premature.
I'm curious about what all this CODE talk is? All doors I'm familiar with have a deadbolt in addition to the electronic lock controlled by the key pad. The mechanical dead bolt on an airliner door works just like the one in your house or flat. Just is about 100 times stronger than the deadbolt on your front door and 10 times stronger than the electronic logon the cockpit door. Once the deadbolt is engaged the door will never be opened in flight with any available tool. You can play with that keypad to the end of time with no effect because the door is locked by a mechanical means. The only way you can open it is with a key and the key is never, never carried on the aircraft.
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 01:31
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Originally Posted by A0283
One of the lessons of this and previous accident investigations has been, that it is not clear to the international public how BEA and French public prosecutors investigations are operating side by side during aerospace accident investigations. Where goals and work run in parallel, where they overlap, how independence is assured - while working with a substantial set of common evidence.
Thank you for explaining this.

Different countries do things differently. The French system isn't intrinsically wrong - it is just different to the British / USA system. You make a good point that this could perhaps be better explained.

One thing it may be work considering is that the flow of information from the criminal investigation process will be taking some pressure off the accident investigation process, and allowing this to proceed out of the media spotlight and public speculation. Criminal investigative bodies are used to intense media pressure, accident investigation bodies somewhat less so.

I have lost zero confidence in pilots as a result of this crash. The odds speak for themselves.

I have lost a bit of confidence however as a result of some of the attitudes displayed here:
1. Clutching at straws postulating increasingly more implausible explanations. I know you wouldn't do this when faced with an inflight emergency, so why do it here?
2. The insistence that no information come out until all the facts are "properly" assembled. With all due respect, there are other stakeholders involved. Politicians are answerable to citizens (voters). And aviation is answerable to its customers (passengers). Aviation does not live in some sort of bubble somehow divorced from the rest of society.

Please also remember that following recent tragic events in Paris, French public sentiment will be heightened towards any form of terrorist action. The French government and authorities have to deal with this reality.
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 01:58
  #2604 (permalink)  
 
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eezeegeebee

As soon as the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to satisfy himself that a crime was committed and it was NOT an accident, ICAO Annex 13 ceases to apply.

I rather think the same would be the case in the US where the FBI are always involved treating crash sites as crime scenes. They would not sit on their hands waiting for a year or so for NTSB to publish a report if it became apparent that it had been a crime; they would take over and treat the incident as a crime that they need to investigate and if that required publicity that is what it would get.

It is obvious from the quotes you gave and a lot of responses like yours on here that you do not want this to be shown to be a murder suicide. However, there is an extremely high probability that it was. As that is the case it is the duty of everyone involved in the various criminal and Annex 13 investigations to pass the known information to aircraft operators and regulators - for them to take appropriate action within their areas of responsibility to mitigate any similar risk. They can't pass on that type of information without stating what they think happened based on the CVR and other information. They have not released a full transcript just enough to justify their position that the incident has an extremely high probability of being a crime. How else can they warn operators of the risk they need to mitigate??
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 02:08
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eezeegeebee
Your advocated approach is no doubt right when the actual situation is unclear but when one has sufficient information on which to form a conclusion then it is also legitimate to shall we say 'short circuit' the process and move more rapidly. One also has to note the agenda of the professional associations. Whilst conforming with the letter of the regulations they are in fact trying to protect the reputation of the profession rather than find the answers to the tragedy. This unfortunately is a trait of all professional associations and not just the pilots organisations.
We must also be careful when relying on probability - just because an event has low probability does not mean it won't happen. Too often this corollary is made and I see signs of this in your comments. Taleb is particularly good here. When the professionals who have more information than we do have come to this conclusion we can be pretty sure that they have got it right. This is (as you have noted) a very big thing. For official bodies to stick their necks out to this extent is significant and betokens a level of certainty about the events.
The causes of this disaster are already known even though they may not have been officially announced as such. As more evidence emerges it reinforces the mass murderer explanation and disproves other explanations. The questions asked from now on really need to focus on what can be done to avoid future repeats and if, in fact, anything can be done.
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 02:28
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It's perfectly possible that the aircraft had a different code programmed to the one the crew were trying. How often is this tested in your airline?
Before every flight.

What's the time delay after you enter the emergency code?
Mind your own business.

I'm curious about what all this CODE talk is? All doors I'm familiar with have a deadbolt in addition to the electronic lock controlled by the key pad. The mechanical dead bolt on an airliner door works just like the one in your house or flat. Just is about 100 times stronger than the deadbolt on your front door and 10 times stronger than the electronic logon the cockpit door. Once the deadbolt is engaged the door will never be opened in flight with any available tool. You can play with that keypad to the end of time with no effect because the door is locked by a mechanical means.
You are describing the older system. The current system incorporates elements of old and new.

The new door is designed to be bullet proof and (within reason) bomb proof. I wouldn't pin my hopes on an air marshal being able to open the door with a firearm.
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 02:34
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No criminal investigative authority from any country is going to sit on its hands in the face of evidence being uncovered that suggests that a purposeful, criminal act may have been committed, particularly one that causes the deaths of others, and wait for months or years for the aircraft accident investigators to complete their investigation and then only act if the conclusion of the accident investigators rules out all other possibilities. It would be idiotic for them to do so.

If an aircraft was lost due to a mechanical malfunction, and due to the nature of the component(s) failures investigators had to accept that sabotage became a real possibly yet well before they had drawn their own definitive conclusions, do some here actually suggest that criminal investigators allow the trail to grow cold and evidence disappear and not conduct their own searches, seizures and timely interviews/interrogations using the investigative/legal roads that criminal investigators have at their disposal that aircraft accident investigators do not? That's not going to happen. Criminal investigators don't have to wait until "all the facts are in and conclusions made" by some other authority. They are in the business of collecting facts themselves when it comes to criminals and their activities/motives, backgrounds etc, and they are going to act and go about collecting their own facts based on suspicion. It's what they do.
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 02:57
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Thanks to Airbus......

If not for the flight mode protections, the crash would have been easier to make. I guess the co pilot had to suffice with max decent and speed rate
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 02:59
  #2609 (permalink)  
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The only way you can open it is with a key and the key is never, never carried on the aircraft.
Time for change then. The manual override key could be carried on the FD and whenever a pilot leaves the FD he/she takes it with them.
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 03:14
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Ian W:
As soon as the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to satisfy himself that a crime was committed and it was NOT an accident, ICAO Annex 13 ceases to apply.
That is not true generally, and especially not true in France, where criminal inquiry is initiated when there is a fatal accident. ** In major fatal aircraft accidents there will be two (or more) inquiries: one by the judiciary and one by the transportation safety board (BEA).

Even if a crime had been committed, the two inquiries continue to run in parallel.

The BEA will continue to investigate the crash and may make safety recommendations to prevent similar scenarios in the future. E.g., they may recommend rule changes with respect to pilots's mental health, requirements around minimum number of crew in the cockpit, changes to door locking system, etc.

The judicial investigation will also continue with the aim in assigning fault and determining civil or criminal liabilities.

In France the judicial investigation has priority over the safety investigation.

(** Strictly speaking, Annex 13 is not law in any country and does not apply to any accident. Annex 13 isn't binding to any signatory. Countries are free to adopt parts of Annex 13 into it's own procedures. In particular, major provisions of Annex 13 do not apply in France -- under any circumstances.)
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 03:15
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Originally Posted by parabellum
Time for change then. The manual override key could be carried on the FD and whenever a pilot leaves the FD he/she takes it with them.
You probably can't have a system 100% effective for threats outside the cockpit as well as 100% effective for internal threats. Strengthening against one threat weakens against the other.

History suggests the external threat is the greatest.

But the internal threat can never be zero

Life is risky. The solution is risk management to ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable). Not risk elimination
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 03:17
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Time for change then. The manual override key could be carried on the FD and whenever a pilot leaves the FD he/she takes it with them.
Then we go back to situation where hijackers can overpower the pilot to gain entry to the cockpit (which is basically why they introduced the new door system).
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 04:05
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Australia to also implement the 2 persons in the cockpit at all time law
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 04:05
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DZKal: really? Provisionally accepted.

Just a thought to complete puzzling over what might have been influencing the cockpit denizen:
What about smoke / fumes?

Don O2 mask, mic picks up breathing ... then what? Me, if I were the junior guy, I'd be calling the captain back without delay. Who wouldn't?

What if he senses, or thinks the plane is on, fire? Getting back to mother earth is a "must get down soon" sort of situation. (FDR data could put paid to this in a jiffy if/when readable). And of course, did someone set a course to nearest airfield? That does not appear to be the case ... no FDR data to confirm ... but a ground track that points toward that non-choice.

The hard to avoid point keeps coming back ... Captain can't get back in, which looks to be the dead bolt working as advertised.
And so one tries to determine: why would someone want to keep the Captain out of the cockpit if there's trouble afoot?
That's quite the elephant in the room, isn't it?

Last edited by Lonewolf_50; 30th Mar 2015 at 04:15.
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 04:14
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Originally Posted by rantanplane
That might be true. One problem is that AME's usually are not psychiatrists and then psychiatrists don't know that much about mental illness yet. They work to some ancient medical standards, not up to date with neuroscience.

Apparently sociopaths can be detected with MRI scans. Ask some indirect questions to trigger responsibility and empathy and you will see their brain is dead silent in the part which should show reactions. I bet half of the AME's don't know what a sociopath actually is.

Absolutely agree. I see no easy way to handle this with the current AME and fitness for flight guidelines in the US and assuming the rules are similar, the EU and UK as well.

Interesting bit about MRI's RP. A terrorism test would be pretty handy these days as well.
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 04:27
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The disaster happened at 10:40 in the morning, returning flight. When he visited the doctor?
To be signed off sick, he wouldn't have needed to visit that exact day. He could have visited the week before and been signed off for a week, or a fortnight, or a month. Given there were multiple sick notes, it seems likely this was a persistent problem that wasn't getting better.
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 05:06
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M68: yes, apparently.

Bild reported that, early in the flight, Captain Patrick Sondheimer "entertained" his co-pilot in a long conversation that included the fact that he had not gone to the toilet in Barcelona.
Lubitz then offered that he could take over – but the captain did not respond.


After the plane reached cruising altitude, the captain instructed his co-pilot to prepare for the landing in Dusseldorf. But Lubitz responded "laconically", using words such as "hopefully" and "we'll see".
Lubitz then said to the captain "you can go now". Two minutes later, the captain told Lubitz to take over, and left the cockpit.


Less than a minute later, at 10.30am, the plane started losing altitude.
A few minutes later, Bild reported, there was a "loud bang" and the voice of the captain could be heard shouting: "For God's sake, open the door."
In the background, screams from passengers could be heard.
At 10.35am, again, "loud metallic blows against the cockpit door" were heard.


About 90 seconds later, an automatic alert said "Ground. Pull up. Pull up."
Outside, the captain screamed: "Open the damn door."
At 10.40 the plane's right wing hit the mountain. The last noise on the tape, Bild reported, was the cries of the passengers.
From Germanwings plane crash: Captain made two attempts to enter cockpit
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 05:31
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Some facts don't add up (from the very beginning)

Crash A320: Les trois éléments qui ne collent pas avec la version officielle - DH.be

Not sure if this has been posted here already, but IMHO raises a few interesting questions:

1. THe complete explication (and accusation) was issued after only 48hours.
2. Other experts claim "normal breathing" would NOT be picked up by recorder.
3. No specific place of impact on ground.
4. The prosecutor said that one could hear the Co-Pilot change altitude settings whereas other experts claim this makes no sound whatsoever. The change of settings would be picked up by the other flight data recorder which - well - have they even found it or mentioned it?
5. At no point has there been any reference to the sound of deadbolting the door (now this makes a sgnificant sound) after the PIC tried to re-access the cockpit.

A Swiss newsaper writes along the same lines mentioning that the release of this cockpit data is against all laws and regulations and a lawsuit will be filed by several unions agains the prosecutor. Let me know if you'd like me to fully translate either article!
http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/panorama...story/27189482

Last edited by Frequent_Flyer; 30th Mar 2015 at 05:42.
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 05:49
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Frequent_Flyer . . .

"THe complete explication (and accusation) was issued after only 48hours. 2. Other experts claim "normal breathing" would NOT be picked up by recorder."
Is the CVR audio in doubt? Would it be different if heard next week or next month? Are you aware that the CVR can pick up amplified breathing sounds if intercom transmit button is switched on?
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Old 30th Mar 2015, 05:58
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TomU.

Even though an F/O (co-pilot) may have a piece of paper saying he is qualified on the type all airlines I have worked for carry a third pilot for safety reasons until the new F/O is cleared to operate without a safety pilot.

This time (or hours, sectors etc) period will depend on the F/O's background, overall experience and progress on the type.

As a matter of interest there is a report saying the F/O only had approx. 100 hours on the A320.

In hindsight the Captain should have relieved himself during the turnaround.
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