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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

Old 31st Mar 2015, 22:03
  #2801 (permalink)  
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Regulatory, indeed

I only wish to concur strongly and emphatically with the points Nigel on Draft has made in the two (2) most current posts. The question of fitness to fly a certificated air transport category aircraft is a matter which must be regulated by each State's national laws, policies and regulations. These in turn must be (if the State is a party to the Chicago Convention) consistent with and faithful to the ICAO Annexes, SARPs and related guidance. However.....as their name implies, SARPs include not only Standards, but also Recommended Practices.
Solving the problem of cockpit access will not be easy. Every State with a major civil aviation sector naturally will tend to -- confirmation bias? -- favor its own way of thinking about such matters. But, uniformity is an underlying principle of the current international civil aviation order. And ordinary, or routine if you prefer, processes in this arena - whether at the EASA or FAA level, or with ICAO at a more inclusive international level - do not move quickly.
But solving the procedural and mechanistic issues around FD access will seem simple, compared to reform, if not "systemic reset", around mental wellness, fitness to fly, and questions of mental illness.
One thing everyone does agree on, or should agree on IMO, is that knee-jerks produce pains where discomfort was not within the scope of the knee's, or the jerk's, intent.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 22:18
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Originally Posted by nessim
(That incident was raised about 100 pages ago, FWIW. )
Could be a worthwhile line of inquire ... but if the FO put on his O2 mask, would that not mitigate the effects?
Putting on the O2 masks seems to be what the captain and FO did in that case.
As I read the summary in the previous post, in the 2010 incident they were at lower altitude and presumably at lower cabin altitude.
Not sure if being at a higher cabin altitude would accelerate the effects of that kind of fumes intrusion into the cockpit.
A problem of being able to fit that hazard into this incident is that after a 350 kt impact with a mountain, whatever might have led to a leak is probably beyond forensic analysis due to kinetic damage/destruction.
Beyond that, the fumes hypothesis does not seem to explain entering a descent and locking others out of the cabin, does it?

If it does, how does it?
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 22:28
  #2803 (permalink)  
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"However, Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Marc Menichini, a high ranking official involved in the recovery operation, has categorically denied that any mobile phone footage had been found by investigators at the site."
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 22:50
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"However, Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Marc Menichini, a high ranking official involved in the recovery operation, has categorically denied that any mobile phone footage had been found by investigators at the site."
Is this an official denial, or a leaked one? It's becoming hard to know.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 22:55
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I calculated that at 500 kmh a 50 m plane would take a fraction of second to crash. I can only say it was mercifully extremely quick. It takes almost a whole second for a thought to be registered, and there was no time for that, there would have been no recognizance of the crash.

If one were to get a serious diagnosis from a doctor one day, there would be a lot of time to think about it.

What can we do, we are mortal, that is simply how it is.

I hope the papers will not make too ugly a scene if there are video recordings.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 23:32
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Interesting that the claim is made that the FO was wearing an O2 mask.
Hmm. In the FAA world, if one pilot exits the cockpit while the aircraft is at or above FL250, the remaining pilot must wear the 02 mask. Ref: 14 CFR 121.333(c)(3)

However, I don't think there is a similar regulation in Europe that mandates wearing the O2 mask while cruising at FL380. Maybe someone more familiar with Germanwings ops can comment?
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 00:03
  #2807 (permalink)  
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It doesn't matter if the guy had 630 hours or 25,000 hours. Mental health can rear its ugly head at anytime during a career.

Throughout this thread, I've seen a few posts from over pond claiming that this wouldn't have happened stateside. The U.S. navy and FedEx never vetted out the suicide attempt of FedEx 705.

IMO, the German medical authority should be answering the question of why this guy was in possession of a class 1 medical, and all airlines worldwide need to look at their policies and employee welfare.
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 00:14
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In the USA, depressed pilots could continue to fly if their depression was treated by medication as of around 2010 (Don't know off the top of my head, when it became the case in Europe). The problem is, most depression now is treated by an SSRI, such as Prozac. As has been pointed out before in this forum, Prozac and drugs like it, occasionally cause people who may not otherwise take their own life or the lives of others, to do just those things (Not often, but often enough to be a public safety concern). I'm not thinking that depressed pilots shouldn't fly. In many cases of depression, one of the best treatments is to immerse yourself in your work, to get your mind off of of the depression or it's cause, whether it be piloting or playing football (after any needed time off).
It is too risky for a pilot to take Prozac or similar SSRI's. If depressed pilots must be medicated, they should take an amphetamine such as Dexedrine or Adderall, or an amphetamine analog, like Methylphenidate (Ritalin). These drugs may not help depression as much as Prozac and the like, but they don't have the danger to public safety side effect of suicide, while taking others with you.
A depressed pilot might not quite be "on his game". Crewmates and automation can make up for that, but a pilot on Prozac might be hell on wheels (or wings), while he flies the aeroplane into the mountainside.
Of course, the public may never know if Lubitz was on an SSRI, such as Prozac (aka: Fluctin, Fluoxetine HCL), but it seems likely he and many past mass murderers were on them.
I wonder if Jet Blue pilot, who went crazy on a flight and had to be restrained by passengers, was on an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor)?
Change the regulations. Prohibit the use of SSRI's for commercial pilots. Pilots and passengers are better off with an unmedicated depressed pilot than one on Prozac!
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 00:46
  #2809 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by IceFlyer
The problem is, that the pilots have to solve a psychological test once when they apply for the job. After that they will never be asked again about their psychological behavior.

But when the airlines would say that the pilots must do this test every half year, it would be very safe to prevent those suicides.
The solution will be knee-jerk reactions and regulatory band-aids - par for the course in commercial aviation or anywhere government is involved - but serves only to kick that can a little further down the road to 'perfection'.

Leaving aside mechanical failures and software anomalies, commercial airline operations in the area of human resources have many points of weakness along the chain of trust. From baggage handlers to engineers to cabin crew to pilots. In this case, it will be the guys up front that will carry the burden of new and 'improved' guidelines, but the threat of catastrophe remains.

Talk all you want about mental health but that door was the last link in chain.Of course they wont accept that because of costs of redesign.Psychometric testing and more SOPs will be their answer......The lunatics run the asylum.They always have.Always will.
The idea is not a bad thing,Rananim, but I see this as a less-than ideal solution. What is really needed is a support system that doesn't include the finishing of one's airline career as is the case in the US. If we can accomplish this, more may be willing to come forward, admit the need for help, and get it.
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 01:26
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What is really needed is a support system that doesn't include the finishing of one's airline career as is the case in the US. If we can accomplish this, more may be willing to come forward, admit the need for help, and get it.
Removing the threats/fears is the only way to get honesty/openness from the pilots.

I would add the the treatment could involve a period of grounding (with full pay) but with closely supervised flights (3rd pilot on fd?) to keep all quals upto date (ready for a return to duty). Demonstrates an expected return to normal for the pilot.

In cases of permanent grounding there has to be a decent compensation package.
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 02:05
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In cases of permanent grounding there has to be a decent compensation package.
Airline-subsidized LOL insurance, without the mental illness clause would be one way through. ALPA offers such a policy, however it is not cheap and there's no payout in cases of being unemployable due to (at least in the states) airline hiring/re-hiring practices, which while not LOL per se, carries the same result as losing one's license.

I also appreciate your way of considering transport from an everyman's perspective, Oldoberon. The taxi analogy is spot on and yes, mile for mile, flying remains the safest way to go. As to passenger fears, for EU/UK airlines, the newly enacted two-crew cockpit SOPs are surely intended to mitigate those fears while also limiting liability.
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 02:14
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Originally Posted by Rushed Approach
...innocent until proven guilty...
To be fair, I'd argue that the concepts of innocence and guilt have no place whatsoever in accident investigation. That stuff's for the legal beagles - and frankly, they're welcome to it.

As far as accident investigation goes, the central matters are:
  • What happened?
  • Why and how did it happen? (if possible to determine)
  • What are the possibilities regarding why and how it happened? (if not)
  • How can we stop it from happening again?

At present, the standard procedures in France (and I believe Germany as well) require that a criminal investigation be opened in the event of an aviation accident as a matter of course. It's worth reading up on the differences between their methods and ours before pontificating IMO.

Despite the apparent leaks, the investigators themselves have released only the information that they can confirm and deem necessary. However, the fact that they have not explicitly contradicted the leaked information implies a likelihood that they consider this to be a deliberate act based on the evidence they have so far. It's a rotten thing to have to contemplate, but contemplate it we must.

On a bit of a tangent, I'm fortunate enough to have a missus who has several friends who specialise in mental healthcare, and from what I've heard the vast and sweeping majority of clinical depression cases pose no risk of harm to anyone but themselves. Willingness to harm others is very much atypical of clinical depression pathologies.

It follows that - if this was a deliberate act brought on by mental health problems - the pathology is likely to be far more complex than usual - it's certainly going to be more than a case of clinical depression.
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 02:54
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DozyWannabe: "It follows that - if this was a deliberate act brought on by mental health problems - the pathology is likely to be far more complex than usual - it's certainly going to be more than a case of clinical depression."

Me thinks you are right.
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 03:27
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High explosives? This door is beginning to take on mythological properties.

Seriously, any shipyard or commercial construction site has hand operated tools that would make short work of the door - but you would have a hard time getting them past security. After all, somebody had to fabricate the thing.

the door exists to prevent the plane from being turned into a weapon, but it assumes that all pilots have good intentions. It was probably the wrong response to 9-11, since nobody will ever again sit meekly while terrorists try to take over a plane.
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 04:48
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Recovery procedures & processing of electronic evidence

Source(s): years of personal experience as a search officer, exhibits officer, and search commander, working with UK police and other agencies. However, I have only a passing knowledge of French procedures. (I would hope that they have a similar, robust-enough system.)

Recovery/seizure of evidence

When an item is seized/recovered, it is placed in a bag which is sealed with a plastic tag ('bagged and tagged'). IME, electronic devices and possibly-sensitive items were placed in differently coloured bags instead of clear, so it was easier to identify and separate them.

(Notes - Use of PNB (notebook) depends on the search briefing, and the individual proclivity of the officer:
- recording of every item found. Every page should be initialled. If they are discovering large amounts of items, this is not always possible.
- recording of only unusual items found, or items important to the investigation.
We tended towards the latter as the exhibits officer would produce a master list of all the items found, however some officers still recorded everything.)

A label is then completed with a detailed description of the item and location found, signed and dated by the officer who found it.

The item(s) would be taken to the person(s) logging items found and assigned a unique number. Once an item gets this far into the process, it is very, very difficult to remove it without a trace. It is a Very Big Deal if anything is lost, and there would be a trace of it (i.e. description of a mobile would include IMEI). All items would be gathered together, counted, checked and double-checked.

If the item is deemed as potentially important, a senior officer's attention would be brought to it and it would be marked as a priority to process. I would think any recognisable electronic devices would come in this category.

The number one rule for electronic devices is that you do not attempt to operate the device under any circumstances. Forget what you see on TV with the police picking up phones and pressing buttons, or answering calls. Evidence gained in that manner would be unusable in a court of law in England or Wales (Interception of Communications/RIPA/PACE). The fact that a person has operated the device can also damage the integrity of any evidence discovered, and it is likely to leave a trace.
The ONLY exception to that rule that I experienced is for devices that will lock if you leave them for more than a few seconds/minutes, which are renowned for being difficult to unlock. (I know of someone who had to babysit one particular PDA device to keep it locking while the digital forensics team on site ran around looking for the correct cable to begin a download.) This does not apply for this case, as all devices would already be either off or on stand-by/locked automatically.

I can't recall whether the latest procedure is to turn seized phones immediately off, or whether to leave them on - however I've seen them being placed inside metal containers to ensure no further interaction with a mobile network is made.

Processing of electronic evidence

IME, mobiles were often the first things that were processed, especially in the days before universal chargers. (If the matching cable was not seized, the download had to be made before the battery expired.) The item(s) would be signed out by the digital forensic analyst, and data recovery would be attempted in a room or container impervious to mobile network signals. It may be processed further by the forensic analyst, or by a member of the investigative team, or another specialist. The resulting effort would be saved on a shared drive which the entire investigative team may have access to (it depends what permissions have been agreed upon).

Onto the latest reports. Apologies for the source - it was either CNN or the DM. I have quoted the article to directly analyse what has been said, and highlighted the paragraphs relevant to this matter (although I understand the perils of translation may have slightly changed the context).

Video of flight's final seconds?
Reports say a cell phone video shows the nightmarish final seconds of Germanwings Flight 9525, but a police spokesman said the accounts were "completely wrong."

French magazine Paris Match and German newspaper Bild reported that a video recovered from a phone at the wreckage site showed the inside of the plane moments before it crashed.

"One can hear cries of 'My God' in several languages," Paris Match reported. "Metallic banging can also be heard more than three times, perhaps of the pilot trying to open the cockpit door with a heavy object. Towards the end, after a heavy shake, stronger than the others, the screaming intensifies. Then nothing."

The two publications described the video, but did not post it on their websites. The publications reported that they watched the video, which was found by a source close to the investigation. (1)

"It is a very disturbing scene," said Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief of Bild online.

An official with France's accident investigation agency, the BEA, said the agency is not aware of any such video.

Lt. Col. Jean-Marc Menichini, a French Gendarmerie spokesman in charge of communications on rescue efforts around the Germanwings crash site, told CNN that the reports were "completely wrong" and "unwarranted." Cell phones have been collected at the site, he said, but that they "hadn't been exploited yet."(2)

Menichini said he believed the cell phones would need to be sent to the Criminal Research Institute in Rosny sous-Bois, near Paris, in order to be analyzed by specialized technicians working hand-in-hand with investigators. But none of the cell phones found so far have been sent to the institute, Menichini said.

Asked whether staff involved in the search could have leaked a memory card to the media, Menichini answered with a categorical "no." (3)

Reichelt told "Erin Burnett: Outfront" that he had watched the video and stood by the report, saying Bild and Paris Match are "very confident" that the clip is real.

He noted that investigators only revealed they'd recovered cell phones from the crash site after Bild and Paris Match published their reports.

"That is something we did not know before. ... Overall we can say many things of the investigation weren't revealed by the investigation at the beginning," he said.
Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz reported depression - CNN.com

The publications reported that they watched the video, which was found by a source close to the investigation. (1)

Does this incriminate an investigator, or a more senior official on site?

...reports were "completely wrong" and "unwarranted." Cell phones have been collected at the site, he said, but that they "hadn't been exploited yet."(2)

This tallies with the procedures I have experienced.

Asked whether staff involved in the search could have leaked a memory card to the media, Menichini answered with a categorical "no." (3)

IF he is incorrect, someone has short-cutted the entire established recovery procedure by stealing either data (operating an electronic device), or stealing the device itself.

IF the videos are not faked, how many have been found? If they are numerous, what is the chance of one or more being 'stolen', and what is the chance of the stolen device containing usable, relevant footage or other data? Slim? And what happens to physical items that are stolen that aren't deemed to be money makers or relevant? Does the thief just throw them away, or attempt to return them to the site?

In summary, some possible options (not exhaustive):
1. the footage has been faked, or does not exist.
2. an investigator on the ground has found a device, but either taken a copy or neglected to bag and tag it into the evidence chain, and sequestered it away to leak to press.
3. whoever is logging items recovered has sequestered the item or a copy of evidence away.
4. the item has been declared 'sensitive', removed from records but has been leaked at the processing stage.
5. the item has been processed, and the thief has stolen a copy of the information it contains. (Not according to Menichini.)

How to discover the truth? Interrogation of the search officers, exhibits officer and any database should show traces. These are minor figures though, senior officers are the only ones with the power to access much information, and cover their tracks.

IMO, if these videos turn out to be genuine, it irreparably damages the credibility of the entire investigation. Personally, the whole issue makes me feel physically sick, to think there is someone actively damaging such an important investigation, possibly for personal gain. (I've worked shoulder-to-shoulder with people on a 'porous' investigation - it was very detrimental to the case and to the health of the team members to be under suspicion.)

If the integrity of the chain of evidence is damaged, then how are we to trust the rest of the investigative process, including whatever data may be discovered on the FDR?
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 04:59
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I am surprised how many people appear to think an anonymous "Big Brother" regulation authority would be more suited to judge the flight fitness of a pilot then the people working daily in the vicinity. Is this another try to push all personal responsibility for each and every neighbor away? I tend to lean towards pushing the fit to fly judgement to a personal accountability of airlines medical departments, as they are much closer to the person as every regulator ever will be. Who knows whether this tragedy could have been avoided when medical fit to fly judgement would not have been transferred from airline medical centers to the regulator by EU laws?
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 05:28
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VAPilot, you are on the right track. What is needed in This industry is what we had at America West - a long term disability program that allowed pilots with a medical issue to have the time off to get themselves taken care of without losing their place on the seniority list or suffering a total loss of income.

We had pilots with a wide variety of issues from substance abuse to heart conditions able to go out on medical leave at 60% of their income. Long term disability kicked in 3 months after the initial short term period. There was no sick leave used in the process, if you had a condition that kept you out longer than 3 months you were placed in the program. Some guys never did get their medical back, they were able to stay on disability until social security retirement age. It was an industry leading benefit, one we fought hard to retain. I know for a fact that guys that may have hid an issue were proactive in getting help becaiuse of this program. I worked on the Aeromedical committee for ALPA when we had that union on the property.

Unfortunately we have lost that benefit in the merger with American. I personally think that this is short sighted on the part of the present union, APA, and the company. Guys that don't have sick bank, which is about 40 percent of the combined pilot group, will not have the money coming in if they have a significant issue. That is disincentive to getting help. We should encourage proactive health fitness, not hinder it.

We self certify our fitness to fly every leg, it's an ACARS entry we make before each flight. The burden is on the pilot to be honest and truthful. The system cannot operate any other way, it is too burdensome to check every pilot every leg. And it would be stupid to do so. This is not a common problem. 99.9 % of us just do our jobs safely and quietly every day. We have a bigger threat from weather and fatigue than we do from mental instability.
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 05:51
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Lot of truth in your post.

When I joined a US major the medical benefits were great and no one argued with time off for sickness. By the time I left, the medical claims were handled by an outside company whose job was to try to reduce company costs to as little as possible and blame any problems you had on your own bad health habits. You could still get time off but with the underlying threat that too much time off could be considered as unreliability and could eventually count against you.

The result was that people, especially junior pilots, dragged themselves into work to fly when they should have been at home in bed. All of this because management cared more about the shareholders dividend than they did about having healthy pilots at work. Until this attitude is changed by regulation I would not trust any airline management with a health care decision.
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 06:41
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Papershuffler, thank you for your analysis. One should consider the reason for any leakage of information. From the initial CVR leak to this one. Obvious reasons are vanity and money. Where it is hard evidence the motive could well be greed.

Very easy to slip a cell phone in your pocket, especially if you know that others have been found. Self-justification would be easy and lots of money could be made. There must be journalists aplenty in the area 'protecting their sources'
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Old 1st Apr 2015, 07:21
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More and more incompetent

I just read the article from Match and Bild and must say, this investigation (and the accompanying reactions from LH, GW, et.al). are becoming more and more incompetent with each passing day.

A few of you on this thread have said it before, and I'll second, third, and fourth it: the CVR, FDR, outside telemetry data, sim cards, SD cards, phone calls, sick notes, and the like need to ALL be gathered together, analyzed, check and double cross-checked, and only THEN can we come to conclusion as to the how's and why's of what happened.

The leaking of a few seconds of the CVR did nothing to help with the investigation. All it has done is spawned a 1001 conspiracy theories, cause people to rush to judgement of not only the FO, but of LH, of security measures, of pilots, and of flying in general.

That stupid article brings absolutely nothing to the table and in fact, weakens any good solutions/discussions that need to be had.

For example:

1. The article leads off by saying that they have obtained a "video of the final seconds of the crash." Yet other sources say the video is only 1 second long. So the lead sentence is false.

2. "Lubitz is alone in the cockpit. He locks the armored door with the “Lock” button:" Do we know he flipped the switch from CVR data? I've heard conflicting reports about how loud this switch is.

3. "The landing begins" What? Really?

4. "The captain is facing a camera connected to the cockpit: Lubitz sees him on screen but does not react." Wait...this article started off talking about the recovered video, so the way this is written may lead one to assume that we can see this on the video. Moreover, how do we now the captain is facing the camera? How do we know Lubitz sees him on the screen?

5. "The captain grabs an oxygen tank or fire extinguisher in order to break down the door." Again, how do we know this?

6. "Through the cockpit door, the first sounds of passengers running in the aisles can be heard." So, I'm assuming through the CVR, we can hear passengers running the isles? What does that sound like? Why are they running in the isles? Why are they not helping the Cpt. break through the door?

7. Everything under "10:35." Again, how do we know this? Is it from the CVR? if so, why wasn't it originally reported, along with everything else, after the first leak?

8."Despite the deafening noises, Lubitz’s breathing can cleary be heard through an oxygen mask he put on." What deafening noises? And how do we know he put on an oxygen mask? If he's just programmed the plane into a "we're definitely going to hit a mountain" descent, why would he put on an oxygen mask? Do we hear this being put on on the CVR? If so, why wasn't this also reported?

This article is absolute trash. And this investigation is starting to stink, imho.
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