D-AIPX, the aircraft involved, in May 2014
|Date||24 March 2015|
|Summary||Suicide by pilot|
|Site|| Prads-Haute-Bléone, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France |
|Aircraft type||Airbus A320-211|
|IATA flight No.||4U9525|
|ICAO flight No.||GWI9525|
|Call sign||Germanwings 9525|
|Flight origin||Barcelona–El Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain|
|Destination||Düsseldorf Airport, Düsseldorf, Germany|
Germanwings Flight 9525 24 March 2015, the aircraft, an Airbus A320-211, crashed 100 km (62 mi) north-west of Nice in the French Alps. All 144 passengers and six crew members were killed. It was Germanwings' first fatal crash in the 18-year history of the company.was a scheduled international passenger flight from Barcelona–El Prat Airport in Spain to Düsseldorf Airport in Germany. The flight was operated by Germanwings, a low-cost carrier owned by the German airline Lufthansa. On
Düsseldorf Airport is the international airport of Düsseldorf, the capital of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is about 7 kilometres (4 mi) north of downtown Düsseldorf, and some 20 kilometres (12 mi) south-west of Essen in the Rhine-Ruhr area, Germany's largest metropolitan area.
Germanwings GmbH is a German low-cost airline wholly owned by Lufthansa which operates under the Eurowings brand. It is based in Cologne with hubs at Cologne Bonn Airport, Stuttgart Airport, Hamburg Airport, Berlin Tegel Airport and further bases at Hannover Airport and Dortmund Airport.
A low-cost carrier or low-cost airline is an airline that is operated with an especially high emphasis on minimizing operating costs and without some of the traditional services and amenities provided in the fare, resulting in lower fares and fewer comforts. To make up for revenue lost in decreased ticket prices, the airline may charge extra fees – such as for carry-on baggage. As of July 2014, the world's largest low-cost carrier is Southwest Airlines, which operates in the United States and some surrounding areas.
The investigation determined that the crash was caused deliberately by the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who had previously been treated for suicidal tendencies and declared "unfit to work" by his doctor. Lubitz kept this information from his employer and instead reported for duty. Shortly after reaching cruise altitude and while the captain was out of the cockpit, he locked the cockpit door and initiated a controlled descent that continued until the aircraft impacted a mountainside.
Suicide by pilot is an event in which a certified or uncertified pilot deliberately crashes or attempts to crash an aircraft in a suicide attempt, sometimes to kill passengers on board or people on the ground. This is sometimes described as a murder–suicide. It is suspected as being a possible cause of the crashes of several commercial flights and is confirmed as the cause in others. Generally, it is difficult for crash investigators to determine the motives of the pilots, since they sometimes act deliberately to turn off recording devices or otherwise hinder future investigations. As a result, pilot suicide can be difficult to prove with certainty.
In commercial aviation, the first officer (FO) is the second pilot of an aircraft. The first officer is second-in-command of the aircraft to the captain, who is the legal commander. In the event of incapacitation of the captain, the first officer will assume command of the aircraft.
A suicide crisis, suicidal crisis, attempted suicide or potential suicide, is a situation in which a person is attempting to kill themselves or is seriously contemplating or planning to do so. It is considered by public safety authorities, medical practice, and emergency services to be a medical emergency, requiring immediate suicide intervention and emergency medical treatment. Suicidal presentations occur when there is an emotional problem or predicament that the individual cannot solve and suicide is a solution to them. Clinicians should re-frame suicidal crises, point out that suicide is not a solution and help the individual identify and solve or tolerate the problems.
In response to the incident and the circumstances of the co-pilot's involvement, aviation authorities in some countries implemented new regulations that require the presence of two authorized personnel in the cockpit at all times.Three days after the incident, the European Aviation Safety Agency issued a temporary recommendation for airlines to ensure that at least two crew members—including at least one pilot—were in the cockpit for the entire duration of the flight. Several airlines announced that they had already adopted similar policies voluntarily.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency or EASA is an agency of the European Union (EU) with responsibility for civil aviation safety. It carries out certification, regulation, and standardisation, and also performs investigation and monitoring. It collects and analyses safety data, drafts and advises on safety legislation, and coordinates with similar organisations in other parts of the world. The idea of a European-level aviation safety authority goes back to 1996, but the agency was not legally established until 2002. It began its work in 2003.
Germanwings Flight 9525 took off from Runway 07R at Barcelona–El Prat Airport on 24 March 2015 at 10:01 am CET (09:01 UTC) and was due to arrive at Düsseldorf Airport by 11:39 CET. The flight's scheduled departure time was 9:35 CET. According to the French national civil aviation inquiries bureau, the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), the pilots confirmed instructions from French air traffic control at 10:30 CET. At 10:31 CET, after crossing the French coast near Toulon, the aircraft left its assigned cruising altitude of 38,000 ft (12,000 m) and without approval began to descend rapidly. The air traffic controller declared the aircraft in distress after its descent and loss of radio contact.
Central European Time (CET), used in most parts of Europe and a few North African countries, is a standard time which is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The time offset from UTC can be written as UTC+01:00. The same standard time, UTC+01:00, is also known as Middle European Time and under other names like Berlin Time, Warsaw Time and Romance Standard Time (RST), Paris Time or Rome Time.
Coordinated Universal Time is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is within about 1 second of mean solar time at 0° longitude, and is not adjusted for daylight saving time. In some countries where English is spoken, the term Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is often used as a synonym for UTC and predates UTC by nearly 300 years.
The Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety is an agency of the French government, responsible for investigating aviation accidents and incidents and making safety recommendations based on what is learned from those investigations.
The descent time from 38,000 ft was about 10 minutes; radar observed an average descent rate around 3,400 ft/min or 58 feet per second (18 m/s). Attempts by French air traffic control to contact the flight on the assigned radio frequency were not answered. A French military Mirage jet was scrambled from the Orange-Caritat Air Base to intercept the aircraft. According to the BEA, radar contact was lost at 10:40 CET; at the time, the aircraft had descended to 6,175 feet (1,882 m). The aircraft crashed in the remote commune of Prads-Haute-Bléone, 100 kilometres (62 mi) north-west of Nice. A seismological station of the Sismalp network, the Grenoble Observatory, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from the crash site, recorded the associated seismic event, determining the crash time as 10:41:05 CET.
The Dassault Mirage 2000 is a French multirole, single-engine fourth-generation jet fighter manufactured by Dassault Aviation. It was designed in the late 1970s as a lightweight fighter to replace the Mirage III for the French Air Force. The Mirage 2000 evolved into a multirole aircraft with several variants developed, with sales to a number of nations. It was later developed into the Mirage 2000N and 2000D strike variants, the improved Mirage 2000-5 and several export variants. Over 600 aircraft were built and it has been in service with nine nations.
In military aviation, scrambling is the act of quickly mobilising military aircraft. Scrambling can be in reaction to an immediate threat, usually to intercept hostile aircraft.
Air Base 115 Orange-Caritat is a French Air Force base equipped with one runway and named after Capitaine de Seyne. It is located 5 kilometres (3 mi) east of Orange, a commune in the Vaucluse department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in France.
The crash is the deadliest air disaster in France since the 1981 crash of Inex-Adria Aviopromet Flight 1308, in which 180 people died, and the third-deadliest French air disaster of all time, behind Flight 1308 and Turkish Airlines Flight 981.This was the first major crash of a civil airliner in France since the crash of Air France Flight 4590 on takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport in 2000.
Inex-Adria Aviopromet Flight 1308 was a McDonnell Douglas MD-81 aircraft operating a Yugoslavian charter flight to the French island of Corsica. On 1 December 1981 the flight crashed on Corsica's Mont San-Pietro, killing all 180 people on board. The crash was the deadliest and first major aviation accident involving a McDonnell Douglas MD-80,
Turkish Airlines Flight 981 was a scheduled flight from Istanbul Yesilköy Airport to London Heathrow Airport, with an intermediate stop at Orly Airport in Paris. On 3 March 1974, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 operating the flight crashed into the Ermenonville Forest, outside Paris, killing all 346 people on board. The crash was also known as the Ermenonville air disaster. At the time, Flight 981 was the deadliest plane crash in aviation history until 27 March 1977, when 583 people perished in the collision of two Boeing 747s in Tenerife. It remained the deadliest single-aircraft accident until the crash of Japan Airlines flight 123 on 12 August 1985, and the deadliest aviation accident without survivors until the Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision on 12 November 1996. It remains the deadliest single-aircraft accident without survivors.
Air France Flight 4590 was an international charter flight, from Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris to Newark International Airport, New York City, flown by an Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde. On 25 July 2000 at 15:43 UTC, the aircraft serving the flight ran over debris on the runway during takeoff, blowing a tyre and puncturing a fuel tank. The subsequent fire and engine failure caused the aircraft to crash into a hotel in nearby Gonesse two minutes after takeoff, killing all 109 people aboard and four more people in the hotel, with another person in the hotel critically injured.
The crash site is within the Massif des Trois-Évêchés, 3 km (2 mi) east of the settlement Le Vernet and beyond the road to the Col de Mariaud, in an area known as the Ravin du Rosé. The aircraft crashed on the southern side of the Tête du Travers, a minor peak in the lower western slopes of the Tête de l'Estrop. The site is about 10 km (6 mi) west of Mount Cimet, where Air France Flight 178 crashed in 1953.
Gendarmerie nationale and Sécurité Civile sent helicopters to locate the wreckage. 2 km2 (500 acres).The aircraft had disintegrated; the largest piece of wreckage was "the size of a car". A helicopter landed near the crash site; its personnel confirmed no survivors. The search and rescue team reported the debris field covered
The aircraft involved was a 24-year-old Airbus A320-211, 29 November 1990 and was delivered to Lufthansa on 5 February 1991. The aircraft was leased to Germanwings from 1 June 2003 until mid-2004, then returned to Lufthansa on 22 July 2004 and remained with the airline until it was transferred to Germanwings again on 31 January 2014. The aircraft had accumulated about 58,300 flight hours on 46,700 flights.serial number 147, registered as D-AIPX. It made its first flight on
|Some passengers had multiple citizenship. Counts are based on preliminary data and do not total 150.|
During its final flight, the aircraft was carrying 144 passengers and six crew (two pilots and four cabin crew members)from at least 18 countries—mostly Germany and Spain. The count was confused by the multiple citizenship status of some people on board.
The flight's pilot in command was 34-year-old Captain Patrick Sondenheimer,who had 10 years of flying experience (6,000 flight hours) 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.
Andreas Günter Lubitzwas born on 18 December 1987 and grew up in Neuburg an der Donau, Bavaria and Montabaur in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. He took flying lessons at Luftsportclub Westerwald, an aviation sports club in Montabaur.
Lubitz was accepted into a Lufthansa trainee programme after finishing high school. In September 2008, he began training at the Lufthansa Flight Training school in Bremen, Germany.He suspended his pilot training in November 2008 after being hospitalized for a severe episode of depression. After his psychiatrist determined that the depressive episode was fully resolved, Lubitz returned to the Lufthansa school in August 2009. Lubitz moved to the United States in November 2010 to continue training at the Lufthansa Airline Training Center in Goodyear, Arizona. From June 2011 to December 2013, he worked as a flight attendant for Lufthansa while training to obtain his commercial pilot's licence, until joining Germanwings as a first officer in June 2014.
Among the passengers were 16 students and two teachers from the Joseph-König-Gymnasium of Haltern am See, North Rhine-Westphalia. They were returning home from a student exchange with the Giola Institute in Llinars del Vallès, Barcelona.Haltern's mayor, Bodo Klimpel, described the crash as "the darkest day in the history of [the] town". Bass-baritone Oleg Bryjak and contralto Maria Radner, singers with Deutsche Oper am Rhein, were also on the flight.
The French BEA opened an investigation into the crash; it was joined by its German counterpart, the Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation. The BEA was assisted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.Hours after the crash, the BEA sent seven investigators to the crash site; these were accompanied by representatives from Airbus and CFM International. The cockpit voice recorder, which was damaged but still usable, was recovered by rescue workers and was examined by the investigation team. The following week, Brice Robin, the government prosecutor based in Marseille, announced that the flight data recorder, which was blackened by fire but still usable, had also been found. Investigators isolated 150 sets of DNA, which were compared with the DNA of the victims' families.
According to French and German prosecutors, the crash was deliberately caused by the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz.Brice Robin said Lubitz was initially courteous to Captain Sondenheimer during the first part of the flight, then became "curt" when the captain began the midflight briefing on the planned landing. Robin said when the captain returned from probably using the toilet and tried to enter the cockpit, Lubitz had locked the door. The captain had a code to unlock the door, but the lock's code panel can be disabled from the cockpit controls. The captain requested re-entry using the intercom; he knocked and then banged on the door, but received no response. The captain then tried to break down the door, but like most cockpit doors made after the September 11 attacks, it had been reinforced to prevent intrusion. During the descent, the co-pilot did not respond to questions from air traffic control, nor transmit a distress call. Robin said contact from the Marseille air traffic control tower, the captain's attempts to break in, and Lubitz's steady breathing were audible on the cockpit voice recording. The screams of passengers in the last moments before impact were also heard on the recording.
After their initial analysis of the aircraft's flight data recorder, the BEA concluded that Lubitz deliberately crashed the aircraft. He had set the autopilot to descend to 100 ft (30 m) and accelerated the speed of the descending aircraft several times thereafter. The aircraft was travelling at 700 km/h (430 mph) when it crashed into the mountain. The BEA preliminary report into the crash was published on 6 May 2015, six weeks later. It confirmed the initial analysis of the aircraft's flight data recorder and revealed that during the earlier outbound Flight 9524 from Düsseldorf to Barcelona, Lubitz had practised setting the autopilot altitude dial to 100 ft several times while the captain was out of the cockpit.
The BEA final report into the crash was publish on 13 March 2016. The report concluded that Lubitz had deliberately crashed the aircraft, which stated:
The collision with the ground was due to the deliberate and planned action of the co-pilot, who decided to commit suicide while alone in the cockpit. The process for medical certification of pilots, in particular self-reporting in case of decrease in medical fitness between two periodic medical evaluations, did not succeed in preventing the co-pilot, who was experiencing mental disorder with psychotic symptoms, from exercising the privilege of his licence.
The following factors may have contributed to the failure of this principle:
- The co-pilot’s probable fear of losing his ability to fly as a professional pilot if he had reported his decrease in medical fitness to an AME
- The potential financial consequences generated by the lack of specific insurance covering the risks of loss of income in case of unfitness to fly
- The lack of clear guidelines in German regulations on when a threat to public safety outweighs the requirements of medical confidentiality
Security requirements led to cockpit doors designed to resist forcible intrusion by unauthorized persons. This made entering the flight compartment impossible before the aircraft impacted the terrain in the French Alps.— Causes, BEA Final Report
Three days after the crash, German detectives searched Lubitz's Montabaur properties and removed a computer and other items for testing. They did not find a suicide note nor any evidence his actions had been motivated by "a political or religious background".During their search of Lubitz's apartment, detectives found a letter in a waste bin indicating he had been declared unfit to work by a doctor. Germanwings stated it had not received a sick note from Lubitz for the day of the flight. News accounts said Lubitz was "hiding an illness from his employers"; under German law, employers do not have access to employees' medical records, and sick notes excusing a person from work do not give information about medical conditions.
The following day, authorities again searched Lubitz's home, where they found evidence he was taking prescription drugs and suffered from a psychosomatic illness.Criminal investigators said Lubitz's web searches on his tablet computer in the days leading up to the crash included "ways to commit suicide" and "cockpit doors and their security provisions". Prosecutor Brice Robin said doctors had told him Lubitz should not have been flying, but medical secrecy requirements prevented this information from being made available to Germanwings.
In the weeks before the BEA's preliminary report, the investigation into Lubitz found he had been treated for suicidal tendencies prior to his training as a commercial pilot and had been temporarily denied a US pilot's license because of these treatments for depression.The final report of the BEA confirmed the preliminary report's findings, saying the co-pilot began showing symptoms of psychotic depression. For five years, Lubitz had frequently been unable to sleep because of what he believed were vision problems; he consulted over 40 doctors and feared he was going blind. Motivated by the fear that blindness would cause him to lose his pilot's licence, he began conducting online research about methods of committing suicide before deciding to crash Flight 9525.
French Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve announced that due to the "violence of the impact", "little hope" existed that any survivors would be found.Then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls dispatched Cazeneuve to the scene and set up a ministerial task force to coordinate the response to the incident.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier flew over the crash site; he described it as "a picture of horror".German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the minister-president of North Rhine-Westphalia Hannelore Kraft travelled to the crash site the following day. Merkel, Valls, and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visited the recovery operations base at Seyne-les-Alpes. Bodo Klimpel, mayor of Haltern am See, reacting to the deaths of 16 students and two teachers from the town, said that people were shocked by the crash.
Lufthansa chief executive officer Carsten Spohr visited the crash location the day following the crash; he said it was "the darkest day for Lufthansa in its 60-year history".Several Germanwings flights were cancelled on 24 and 25 March due to the pilots' grief at the loss of their colleagues. Germanwings retired the flight number 4U9525, changing it to 4U9441; the outbound flight number was changed from 4U9524 to 4U9440. In the days following the crash, Lufthansa at first said it saw no reason to change its procedures, then reversed its earlier statement by introducing a new policy across its airlines requiring the presence of two crew members in the cockpit at all times.
In response to the incident and the circumstances of Lubitz's involvement in it, aviation authorities in some countries (including Australia, Canada, Germany, and New Zealand) implemented new regulations that require two authorized personnel to be present in the cockpit of large passenger aircraft at all times.While the United States Federal Aviation Administration, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and some European airlines already had a similar "rule of two" requirement, the European Aviation Safety Agency recommended the introduction of similar legal changes. Other airlines announced similar changes to their policies.
The British Psychological Society issued a statement offering to provide expert support in psychological testing and monitoring of pilots.The European Federation of Psychologists' Associations issued a statement supporting psychological testing in the selection of pilots, but also stated it could not forecast the life events and mental health problems of individual pilots, nor could it predict the unique ways pilots would cope with these. It said priority should be given to psychological help for relatives and friends of victims in the aftermath of a disaster. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr proposed random checks of pilots' psychological fitness and a loosening of the extant physician–patient confidentiality laws. Politicians began echoing the call for a loosening of the laws in exceptional cases.
The National Gendarmerie, a national police force in France that prides itself on toughness and resilience, introduced a new set of support mechanisms to minimize the psychosocial risks to relief workers who deal with events such as Flight 9525 in their daily jobs.
Germanwings' parent company Lufthansa offered victims' families an initial aid payment up to €50,000, separate from any legally required compensation for the disaster. Elmar Giemulla, a professor of aviation law at the Technical University of Berlin quoted by the Rheinische Post , said he expected the airline would pay €10–30 million in compensation. The Montreal Convention sets a per-victim cap of €143,000 in the event an airline is held liable, unless negligence can be proven. Insurance specialists said although co-pilot Andreas Lubitz hid a serious illness from his employer and deliberately crashed the passenger aircraft, these facts would not affect the issue of compensation nor be applicable to the exclusion clause in Lufthansa's insurance policy. Lufthansa's insurance company set aside US$300 million (€280 million) for financial compensation to victims' families and for the cost of the aircraft.
As of February 2017, Lufthansa had paid €75,000 to every family of a victim, as well as €10,000 pain and suffering compensation to every close relative of a victim. A lawyer for the families was preparing a lawsuit in Germany to extract higher compensation.
German law does not allow for punitive damages or the broad discovery generally available under the law of most American jurisdictions. A U.S. plaintiffs' law firm, Kreindler & Kreindler, signed up families of about 80 of the crash victims as clients, and filed a lawsuit on their behalf on 13 April 2016 in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona against the Arizona-based Lufthansa Airline Training Center that Lubitz had attended for his training as a commercial pilot.
Shortly after the crash, a memorial stone in memory of the victims was erected near the crash site in Le Vernet.The following month, about 1,400 relatives of victims, senior politicians, rescue workers, and airline employees attended a memorial service at Cologne Cathedral. The parents of Andreas Lubitz were invited to the service but did not attend.
The remains of 15 of the 16 school children and their two teachers arrived in their home town of Haltern for burial two months after the crash. Residents held white roses as the hearses passed the children's school, where 18 trees—one for each victim—had been planted as a memorial.In Düsseldorf on the same day, the remains of 44 of the 72 German victims arrived for burial. Errors on the victims' death certificates had caused a delay. A lawyer representing the families of 34 victims said that burying the remains would help many relatives achieve closure.
The Lubitz family held a press conference on 24 March 2017, two years after the crash. Lubitz's father said that they did not accept the official investigative findings that Andreas Lubitz deliberately caused the crash or that he had been depressed at the time. They presented aviation journalist Tim van Beveren, whom they had commissioned to publish a new report, which asserted that Lubitz could have fallen unconscious, that the cockpit door lock had malfunctioned on previous flights, and that potentially dangerous turbulence had been reported in the area on the day of the crash. The timing of the press conference by Lubitz's father, on the anniversary of the crash, was criticized by families of the victims, who were holding their own remembrances on that day.
The crash was dramatised in season 16 of the Canadian TV series Mayday in an episode entitled "Murder in the Skies".The episode aired on 24 January 2017.
Deutsche Lufthansa AG , commonly known as Lufthansa, is the largest airline from Germany and, when combined with its subsidiaries, also the largest airline in Europe in terms of passengers carried. The name of the company is derived from the German word Luft meaning "air" and Hansa for the Hanseatic League. Lufthansa is one of the five founding members of Star Alliance, the world's largest airline alliance, formed in 1997.
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Joseph-König-Gymnasium is the only gymnasium in the Westphalian city of Haltern am See. With 1,360 students, it is one of the larger high schools in North Rhine-Westphalia. The school is named after the German chemist Joseph König.
Massif des Trois-Évêchés is a mountain range in the Provence Alps and Prealps in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France. Its name comes from the central summit of the massif, the Pic des Trois-Évêchés where there are ridges to the north, west and south. The highest peak is the Tête de l'Estrop, at 2,961 metres (9,715 ft).
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Ruecker said Lubitz also trained in Goodyear, Arizona.
He then intentionally modified the autopilot instructions to order the aeroplane to descend until it collided with the terrain.
but hid his illness from his employer and colleagues.
Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was hiding an illness from his employers and had been declared "unfit to work" by a doctor, according to German authorities investigating what could have prompted the seemingly competent and stable pilot to steer his jetliner into a French mountain.
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