Aviation Accidents

Germanwings Flight 9525: A Horrid Tragedy

There have been many commercial plane crashes throughout history due to several reasons. And each crash surely left a trace in the aviation world, leaving behind countless questions about how and why they occurred. While some crashes were caused by technical reasons such as malfunctioning devices, there were also other reasons for others, such as weather conditions or pilots’ faults.

However, there was a very significant crash, in which none of the reasons above were true. The Germanwings Flight 9525 was a plane crash, a very dramatic and gory event, being the reason for a total of 150 people to be killed.

The Story of The Crash

The crash, which took place on March 24th 2015 during a flight from Barcelona-El Prat Airport to Düsseldorf Airport was organized by Germanwings. Germanwings is a sub company of Lufthansa that focuses on providing cheap flights. There weren’t any problems with flight devices on the plane, nor was the weather bad enough to cause an accident.

The reason behind the crash was the co-pilot of the Airbus A320-211, he had deliberately caused the crash, being the reason for a total of 150 people to be killed on that flight.

Andreas Lubitz joined Germanwings in September, 2013 after graduating from Lufthansa’s flight training school. He had just 630 hours of experience at the time of the crash.

The co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who deliberately caused the crash, was a young man that had psychological difficulties including insomnia and depression. He was recommended by his psychiatrist not to fly, and was given a health report stating that he should not be flying, but he kept the report from his employer, and continued flying.

While he was defined as a funny and calm man by his family, friends, and neighbors, the investigations showed that he was seriously suffering from mental instability. It was found that he had actually planned the crash before the flight, marking the day of flight as “The Decision Day”. The investigations also uncovered many notes in his house, most of which were psychologically disturbing and unhealthy.

On the day of the crash, he was acting pretty normal, doing everything usually as he used to do. He and the other pilot of the plane, Patrick Sondenheimer were responsible for the flight. They took off from the Barcelona Airport, and climbed to cruising altitude. After a while, Patrick Sondenheimer said that he needed to use the bathroom, and left the cockpit, giving the full control of the plane to Lubitz.

Lubitz immediately put his plan to action, starting by locking the door of the cockpit. He then changed the autopilot commands, setting the new cruising altitude to 100 feet. The plane started to lose altitude and gain speed at uncontrollable rates. At this point, the French Air Traffic Control unit realized the rapid change in the altitude of the plane, and tried to communicate with the pilot. Lubitz didn’t answer any caution calls from the ATC unit, and kept on descending the aircraft.

Moments later, Sondenheimer had returned from the bathroom, trying to open the cockpit door. However, his security code declined, and he was not able to open the cockpit door. He tried to get Lubitz to open the door, but Lubitz didn’t reply to any of his words. At this point, the flight crew and the passengers had also realized that something was wrong, and they were losing altitude. The first wave of panic spreaded over the passengers, and nobody knew what to do.

The plane crashed north-west of Nice in the French Alps

Now, the plane had descended to about 13000 feet. At this point, Sondenheimer was still trying to open the cockpit door with the help of a crowbar a flight attendant brought from the back of the plane, and Lubitz was still not responding. He put an oxygen mask on his face, and continued descending the plane.

At 7000 feet, the altitude alarm on the plane went off, warning Lubitz to pull up the nose of the plane. Seconds later, at 5000 feet, the right wing of the plane got into contact with a mountainside, causing the wing to get clipped. The plane dropped to a cruising altitude of just 5,000 feet from 38,000 feet in about 8 minutes. And moments later, the plane crashed into the mountain at about 648 km/h. The plane crashed 100 km (62 mi; 54 nmi) north-west of Nice in the French Alps.

Germanwings Flight 9525
Germanwings Flight 9525
image source: Katrina Roberts

There weren’t any survivors from the crash. All 144 passengers and 5 crew of the plane had been killed during the impact, in addition to Lubitz. The French and German governments started different investigations on the crash, and they detected the cause behind the crash. It was the co-pilot, Lubitz, intentionally causing the crash, and killing 149 people with him.

Pilots of the Flight 9525

The pilots of the flight 9525 was Captain Patrick Sondenheimer and co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. 34-year-old Captain Patrick Sondenheimer, who had 10 years of flying experience (6,000 flight hours, including 3,811 hours on the Airbus A320) flying A320s for Germanwings, Lufthansa, and Condor. The co-pilot was 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz, who joined Germanwings in September 2013 and had 630 flight hours of experience, with 540 of them on the Airbus A320.

Germanwings Flight 9525
Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz

Aircraft of Germanwings Flight 9525

The plane was Airbus A320 with registration number D-AIPX. It was delivered to Lufthansa on June 2, 1991. D-AIPX joined the Germanwings fleet in 2014. According to a statement from Airbus, the Germanwings jet had accumulated 58,300 flight hours on 46,700 flights. And the plane was powered by a pair of General Electric/SNECMA CFM-56 5A1 turbofan engines before the crash.