Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Transportation News

Germanwings Plane Crash Was No Accident 737

hcs_$reboot writes The Germanwings plane crash takes a scary turn. After a couple of days investigation, it appears that the co-pilot requested control of the aircraft about 20 minutes into the flight. The pilot then left the cockpit, leaving the co-pilot in full control of the plane. Then, the co-pilot manually and "intentionally" set the plane on the descent that drove it into the mountainside in the southern French Alps. Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, a 28-year-old German national, could be heard breathing throughout the plane's descent and was alive at the point of impact, according to the prosecutor.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Germanwings Plane Crash Was No Accident

Comments Filter:
  • by gyepi ( 891047 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:02AM (#49343785) Homepage
    While the new info about the cockpit door mechanism seems compelling, it may be worthwhile to take a look at the tragic catastrophe of Germanwings in the light of a crude calculation that illustrates just how staggering is the number of hours flown per year.
    Let's assume that on average a person faints only once in a lifetime, and that on average we spend 5 minutes a day with seeking out and using the restroom. Then on average we should expect in every 70*365*24*24*60/5 = 177 million hours that a pilot faints while another is using the restroom, assuming that these two events are uniformly distributed and independent. According to IATA [aviationbenefits.org] the total number of flight hours in 2012 was 45 million. Dividing the two numbers we see that we should expect such a joint occurrence to happen once in every four years. That it does not happen this frequently is essentially due to the retentive heroism of the pilots, that they tend to stay put even when the urge comes until they guide the plane to safety.
    • by monkeyzoo ( 3985097 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:07AM (#49343815)

      Except that the co-pilot "manipulated the flight monitoring system" to allow the plane to descend at 1000 meters/minute.

      Jeebus, that's terrible!

      • by twitnutttt ( 2958183 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:14AM (#49343875)

        And the co-pilot had to have blocked the door so that the pilot could not re-enter. From the article, there is a code that allows crew members to open the cabin door from the outside, but the pilot inside the cabin has the ultimate power to block access. So it seems the co-pilot deliberately overrode the ability of the pilot to access the cabin again.

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:20AM (#49343933) Homepage

          It's a single switch. Dont make it sound like he pushed a dresser in front of the door.

          • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardpriceNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:31AM (#49344083)

            Here is the pic of the switch in question:

            http://oi58.tinypic.com/qyhc0p... [tinypic.com]

            In "normal" mode its set to allow the door to unlock when the external code is entered.

            In "unlocked" mode, the door is completely unlocked.

            In "locked" mode, the door is completely locked, the external code will not unlock it.

            The action to move between the three states is a very deliberate one - you need to lift the switch up and move it, there is an infinitesimally small chance that it was engaged by accident.

            • by gnunick ( 701343 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @12:57PM (#49346643) Homepage

              Indeed. Here's a 5 minute Airbus-produced video showing how the reinforced door interlock system works, including the exact same switch you describe:

              Airbus Reinforced Cockpit Door Description and Procedure
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        • by Fahrvergnuugen ( 700293 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @03:25PM (#49348359) Homepage
          #2015-03-26 AIRBUS firmware patch:
          if(plane_is_in_dive && security_code_entered){
    • Considering that pilots are not flying their entire lives but only in the years in which they are in physically good shape; considering that they are not literally starving or severly dehydrated the chances of a pilot passing out or fainting - and except for drug and alcohol use - is much less than once-in-a-pilot's-flying-lifetime.
    • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:10AM (#49343847)
      Very unlikely. It's been explained that the door lock has 3 positions: Not locked, Normal, Locked. The door is always in the "Normal" position: the normal position allows another pilot, outside the cockpit, to unlock and enter the door after entering a digital code. The "Locked" position is used only in extreme cases, and nobody but the people inside the cockpit may unlock the door. The door has been switched to "Locked".
      • The door has been switched to "Locked".

        Let me rephrase that: The door has likely been switched to "Locked".

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:25AM (#49343991) Homepage

      In addition to all of the other evidence against this.... its rare that a person feints while in a seated position, its far more common while standing. A pilot, especially one alone in the cockpit is in a seated position. Also you are assuming that people who feint are representative of the population as a whole and of the population of active working pilots; where there is likely some medical self selection bias at work in both of those assumptions.

      Also for the most part, both pilots can leave the cockpit, or take a nap, and the plane shouldn't crash. This isn't exactly a wright brother's special here, this is a modern commercial airliner.

      There really isn't a lot of room here for an accident based on the TFAs claims

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:38AM (#49344161)

        ...its rare that a person feints while in a seated position,...

        That's not true at all. For example, often times when I am relegated to the middle seat on an airplane I'll get all fidgety and unbuckle my belt. The aisle seat passenger will assume I need to get up and start to get his/her stuff in order so that I may be let out. Then I just settle back in to my chair and keep watching my movie.

        I think you meant, "faint".

      • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:40AM (#49344179)

        its rare that a person feints while in a seated position, its far more common while standing.

        Only because it's hard to advance or retreat from a seated position. I bet there's an example in a Three Musketeers movie though. Allez!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:04AM (#49343797)


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:04AM (#49343801)

    The command was given by the captain before he left the cockpit (most likely to use the toilet).

  • The copilot is likely either a selfish bastard bent on school-shooter style suicide, or a selfish bastard taking a bunch of folks with him on his phantom trip to his afterlife reward.

    The saddest part of the story is the publicity will encourage other malcontents to mimicry.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:13AM (#49343869) Homepage Journal

    The fact that no attack occured gives the talking heads leeway to claim there was no "terrorist attack." That does not mean the fellow flying the plane at the time didn't have sympathies for terrorists or had been outright radicalized.

    They also hate calling something a "terrorist attack" if there isn't a pre-announced political message for the reasons behind the attack.

    Myself, I have a feeling they're going to learn a few things about him during the investigation that they'd rather were not true.

    • it could be as mundane as depression

      but then we're talking about depression and overwhelming narcissism here

      because depressed suicidal people still know right and wrong: they aren't going to take 150 innocent people out with them. the desire to harm the self for various reasons is not the same as the desire to harm others. so when you're talking murder/ suicide, such as when a dad or mom kills the spouse/ kids then themselves, you're at a level far beyond and far different than just depression and suicide, you're dealing with a narcissistic asshole

      if it is simply suicide and not terrorism, this suicidal guy is still a complete piece of shit on the level of a terrorist. to be so overwhelmed with such a selfish egotistical internal drama that 150 lives simply don't mean a thing? wow

      man, if this is all because some fucking girl broke up with him... fuck this douchebag

      • I knew someone who stepped in front of a train. The driver was pretty badly affected by it. He wasn't a narcissist, he was just mentally ill with depression. In that state a person's brain isn't working properly and they sometimes act on faulty logic. In the case of people who kill their families before killing themselves they probably see it as the "right" thing to do, because they want to die but don't want their families to suffer grief, and see death as a way of ending suffering.

        It's hard for us to imagine but when your whole world is pain things like that seem to make sense.

    • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @10:51AM (#49345007) Homepage

      A couple of days ago, a Christian musician family in Phoneix (I think) went obviously nuts and engaged in a massive firefight with police in a big box parking lot they were camping in. Their entire repetoir was about Jesus coming and the End Times - and I'm guessing, since they were all armed, they were the US Government-Obama-is-Satan cultists that are extremely pervasive in the Confederacy (the West is just the suburbs of the Confederacy, has been since the end of the civil war). We have a gigantic armed cult of doomsdayer Dominionists dispersed throughout the country, and the FBI taskforce that monitored it was taken down at the insistence of Congressional confederate Republicans. Our loonies wear ties and Glocks and praise Jesus and fear the negro President. Not even a little bit hyperbolic.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm guessing, since they were all armed, they were the US Government-Obama-is-Satan cultists

        Yeah, if they had well armed bodyguards that demanded that the common man be barred the ownership of arms they'd probably be Republicans-are-all-religous-loons goosesteppers.

        Not even a little bit hyperbolic.

        Um, I'm "well armed", not a Republican, not a Christian, science supporting, environmentally aware person... you're being one step short of the level when we need to call the men

  • "USA overreaction to 9/11 means locked doors!"

    but pilot suicide/ homicide is just as much a bizarre outlier as murderous hijacking

    plus, they thought about this problem when designing the system. the door system means someone can enter a PIN on a keypad outside and override the lock (in case of pilot incapacitation). to override the override, the person inside the cockpit has to actively deny the outside override attempt. which in this case the copilot apparently did

    so this copilot is a complete scumbag. depression and suicide is nowhere remotely an excuse or even a valid explanation for selfishly mass murdering 150 innocent people. this is assuming we are talking depression and suicide, and not more nefarious intent

    what are we left with? keep the door open and we have murderous hijacking? keep the door locked and we have murderous pilots? yeah both are extremely rare outliers, but it's fucking scary either way

    air travel is so much safer than driving statistically. but at least when you die in a car, it's for mundane, hum drum reasons usually. when something goes wrong in the air, it's cinematic drama, emotional and blood curdling. disgusting

    and those poor people

    there's screams on the recording on the end

    we would have hoped they had no idea what was coming, but they knew full well what was happening.

    • I think we'll see renewed calls for a remote override capability built into airliners, so the ground can take over the plane when pilots become non-responsive or the plane begins to rapidly descend.
      • Yeah I would agree with this. People on the ground are at least independent enough to consider if the situation warrants unlocking the cockpit or if the possibility of terrorist takeover is too high. Regardless though, no human system will ever be perfect. With modern autopilots I would almost like to see the system just turn over control to the auto pilot to land at the nearest available airport. Of course this has it's own issues.
      • Re:Remote Override (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jareth-0205 ( 525594 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:34AM (#49344119) Homepage

        I think we'll see renewed calls for a remote override capability built into airliners, so the ground can take over the plane when pilots become non-responsive or the plane begins to rapidly descend.

        Well won't that would be fun when the hackers focus their attention on their new remote-control planes.

    • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:32AM (#49344095)

      If a pilot or copilot wants to bring down a plane, it's unlikely there is any security procedure that could stop it. He didn't even need the locked door bit, He could have almost as easily just stabbed the captain when he turned his back.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      pilot suicide/ homicide is just as much a bizarre outlier as murderous hijacking

      Oh the irony! The A320 was one of the first planes to have only 2 pilots instead of 2 pilots + 1 engineer (for cost reasons). At the time, 2 persons could always be in the cockpit at anytime.

    • From the news it sounds like they could hear the co-pilot breathing normally and calmly during the whole descent - in the face of murdering 150 people and killing yourself plus the actual pilot hammering against the door trying to get in, this suggests at least diminished empathy and remorse a.k.a. psychopathic tendencies.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:23AM (#49343963)

    ... of having a flight attendant stay in the cockpit when one of the pilots goes to the bathroom.

    I would have previously said that was too paranoid but apparently not.

    • by geekymachoman ( 1261484 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @10:45AM (#49344965)

      What's up with people and these retarded knee-jerk reactions ? And you got even modded insightful. This was obviously premeditated. You don't think the guy would be capable of doing the same thing if a clueless flight attendant was there while pilot is taking a leak ? A guy capable of killing himself and 150 other people like this is perfectly capable of knocking the flight attendants lights out before locking the door, and if he really intended to crash the plane... he would indeed punch her/him out first.

      Second thing... there's what.. 100k flights per day for the last 10 years ? That's like 360000000 flights. For one freak occurrence you should not introduce new laws and regulations and shit. That's exactly what happened on 9/11 .. knee jerk reactions which introduced dozens of new regulations and laws that basically did nothing but made life more difficult and annoying (security theater). And don't give me that crap how every life matters.. nobody cares really about strangers, ottherwise everybody would be in tears over starving children in Africa and some other places instead of stuffing themselves with pizzas, burgers and beer while reading slashdot and playing Call of Duty or whatever. This is just IN now.. plane crashes. So everybody is commenting about it, talking about it, and falsely emotional about it.

      And finally, comment on your post title (This validates the US policy). -- The US has some of the stupidest policies ever. They are like everything else - fake.
      On the surface (or on the paper) they look cool and effective, in real life they're just a shallow cover or a front for taking away your freedom and controlling your life.

      I hope Europeans will actually think how they gonna deal with this instead of doing what Americans are doing. Perhaps incorporate emergency biometric scanner or something like that on the door that can override the "unlock" option ? There are dozens of better systems than .. "oh yeah, we can solve the problem by putting the flight attendant in while pilot is out"...


  • Security is hard... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pehrs ( 690959 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:28AM (#49344037)

    Designing security systems is very hard, and this crash seems to be a classic example of why it is so hard.

    The reinforced cockpit door, and the access control system, was introduced after 9/11. Before that the cockpit door was typically a flimsy thing you could break down with a few good kicks. The reinforced door is designed to prevent passengers from obtaining access to the cockpit. The threat model includes attempts at brute force (the door has to withstand roughly an hour of abuse with anything that can be found in the cabin) and tries to coerce the cabin crew for keys or codes (as the pilots control entry). Airbus (and also Boeing, I am pretty sure) also has an emergency procedure which lets you enter the cockpit should the pilots be incapacitated, but the pilots can disable this. There is a nice video here which illustrates hos the access control system airbus uses works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    If media is correct one of the pilots wanted to crash the plane, and used the cockpit security system to prevent the other crew from interfering. This was not part of the threat model, and that made the current security system work in favor of the attacker instead of the rest of the crew. Not good. It cost 150 lives.

    There are ways to get around this. Some airlines require two people to be present in the cockpit at all times, in an effort to prevent this kind of attack. It makes it a lot harder, but not impossible. It could also be possible to allow people on the ground to override the lock on the cockpit door. But in both cases you need to actually design your security system to deal with the threat, which I am sure people are rushing to do now...

  • by eexaa ( 1252378 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @09:58AM (#49344407) Homepage

    We (almost) have self-driving cars. Aircraft generally self-drive themselves almost all time now. Why not have self-driving aircraft?

    Seems a lot safer for now. Pilot can enter anytime if an emergency of non-standard situation is declared (and verified).

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      We (almost) have self-driving cars. Aircraft generally self-drive themselves almost all time now. Why not have self-driving aircraft?

      Because then everyone dies when the computer fails. Autopilots regularly fail and expect the pilot to take over; sometimes, like AF447, the pilot flies it into the sea, but most times they resolve the problem and continue.

      This is particularly problematic when sensors fail, as they did in AF447, and the computer doesn't know what's going on any more.

  • by nucrash ( 549705 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @10:29AM (#49344795)

    I hate to throw conspiracy theory out there, but if the Pilot had made intentions to do dastardly deeds with the plane, perhaps this was a co-pilot trying to save lives at the sacrifice of 150. While I know this is unlikely, but there is the potential for this to be a thing.

    Still, the Co-pilot would have probably said something on the flight recorder, so who really knows. Odds are in the favor that the co-pilot was an undiscovered nutter.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @10:35AM (#49344863) Journal

    So now one plane has been destroyed as the direct result of anti-terrorism measures; in this case, the relatively uncontroversial hardening of the cockpit doors.

  • by olafva ( 188481 ) on Thursday March 26, 2015 @11:44AM (#49345653) Homepage

    NorwegianAir today requires 2 crew at all times in cockpit, just as we have in the US. We can only hope Lufthansa can follow sooner than later. Also, it's about time cockpit streaming cameras are required on all large passenger jets, demystifying most accident investigations. The worldwide passenger demand certainly trumps any pilot privacy.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.