Germanwings Airbus Crash: Factual Analysis

JFDee

Senior Member
Question to pilots:

Is there something like an automated response to an air pressure drop in the cabin/cockpit?
Or is pilot action required to initiate a descent like the one that we are seeing?

Anyway, my first guess here would be (sudden) loss of conciousness.
 

Hevach

Senior Member
http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/03/24/germanwings_airbus_crash_are_there_more_plane_crashes_now_than_before_or.html

2015 is on track to be the deadliest year of air travel since... uh, 2014 apparently. The downward trend seems intact:


2014 had the fewest incidents ever, but because there were several crashes with high body counts the fatalities were the highest since 2005, but still lower than almost every year before 2005.

2015's off to a slightly worse start, but still isn't on track to break the curve, let alone return to 90's or earlier levels.
 

derwoodii

Senior Member
Witnesses says engine noise odd or different thou source account maybe poor

http://www.smh.com.au/world/french-villagers-witnessed-plane-flying-low-20150324-1m6yot.html?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=nc&eid=socialn:twi-13omn1677-edtrl-other:nnn-17/02/2014-edtrs_socialshare-all-nnn-nnn-vars-o&sa=D&usg=ALhdy28zsr6qiq


Alpine community of Seyne Les Alpes is near where tour de france bike ride often pass by


speculating yes but this best so far & far better than CT nerve gas Illuminati etc etc

http://www.pprune.org/8915324-post370.html

 

tom161

New Member
Hi I fly with my dad who was the saftey officer for the largest base in the world for us air force. Also a vietnam fighter pilot with 68 missions. Altitude is saftey when flying towards or over mountains. At the first sign of trouble you divert and do not continue on towards .mountains. at 38,0000 feet they could have diverted to an alternate airfield. The last thing you do is continue towards mountains. When approaching mountains you gain altitude enough to glide out of them if you have a problem. You cant be 99% right when flying cause the 1% will do you in. Dont know why any pilot would continue towards mountains if they had a problem. Even I know that, will have to see what recorders show.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Hi I fly with my dad who was the saftey officer for the largest base in the world for us air force. Also a vietnam fighter pilot with 68 missions. Altitude is saftey when flying towards or over mountains. At the first sign of trouble you divert and do not continue on towards .mountains. at 38,0000 feet they could have diverted to an alternate airfield. The last thing you do is continue towards mountains. When approaching mountains you gain altitude enough to glide out of them if you have a problem. You cant be 99% right when flying cause the 1% will do you in. Dont know why any pilot would continue towards mountains if they had a problem. Even I know that, will have to see what recorders show.
I agree. CNN says the gradual descent indicates the pilot was in control - but their descent started very close to Marseille and Toulon-Hyères airports, and you would have expected them to divert.

All speculation though, hopefully the black box will tell us what happened.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
Question to pilots:

Is there something like an automated response to an air pressure drop in the cabin/cockpit?
Or is pilot action required to initiate a descent like the one that we are seeing?
Good questions.

Firstly, a sudden loss of pressurization ("explosive decompression") for instance? Such an event is not "subtle". (Think of your ears, as the pressure changes...it's quite noticeable).

Modern airliners will sound an alert when cabin pressure exceeds approximately ~14,000 feet. Of course there are "slow" decompressions, and the aforementioned "explosive" version. In either case, pilots are trained to immediately don oxygen masks, establish communication (with each other) and then with ATC (Air Traffic Control). Further procedures are outlined in the 'QRH', or Quick Reference Handbook that each pilot has ready access to.

One of the first considerations after an "explosive" decompression is to ascertain structural integrity. This is done by noting whether or not any "Doors" lights are illuminated (whether Cargo, or Entry doors). If no "Doors" lights, then the Emergency Descent is initiated at max speed (Mmo/Vmo). A "Doors" light indicates possible structural compromise, so the Emergency Descent is conducted by holding the LAST indicated airspeed....no faster.

Having typed all of that? It is too soon to speculate on this. But? This sort of event reminds me all too tragically of PanAm 103, over Lockerbie, Scotland. I cannot speak to causation until the Flight Recorders are recovered, and pre-mature speculation is hazardous anyway.
 

TWCobra

Senior Member
Not enough info yet for any informed speculation. (We say don't speculate but everyone does).

Here is what we do know.

1. Descent began about a minute after reaching cruise altltitude.

2. Average of about 4000 feet/min descent. This is about what you would expect with speedbrake extended and thrust idle. Ie the descent appears controlled and not in a stalled condition.

3. No distress call or any radio call. (Troubling considering the amount of time available)

4. The crash appears to have occurred at moderate to high speed.

For the record, the drill for a depressurisation event mandates levelling off at the higher of 10000 feet or safety altitude. Obviously that didn't occur here as the crash site is at 6000 AMSL.

They didn't say which of the flight recorders was recovered. Either, if in reasonable condition should give investigators solid information as to the cause.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member
They didn't say which of the flight recorders was recovered. Either, if in reasonable condition should give investigators solid information as to the cause.
Most reports say it is the CVR
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/24/germanwings-plane-black-box-found-as-investigators-reach-crash-site
Although I'm watching reports on BBC News24, and they are saying FDR in the report they are showing every 15 minutes. But the BBC website currently just says 'Black Box Recorder'
 

JFDee

Senior Member
In either case, pilots are trained to immediately don oxygen masks, establish communication (with each other) and then with ATC (Air Traffic Control).
So I take it that the descent was initiated manually, the speed obviously not increased which could point to a possible structure damage if there was really a decompression.
The deep sound that was described by witnesses might have been caused by a hole in the fuselage, with the airstream being disturbed, creating vibrations or even resonance.

It looks like there was no further recognizable change in the plane's state; no (manual) steering, no communication, no
changes in transponder or frequency settings.

Next question:
Do pilots use an independent source of oxygen compared to the cabin? Is there any regulation regarding this?

I admit that I'm speculating but can't help it, and I'm sure everyone else ponders the "how" question. I don't feel it is wrong to consider it in a rational way.
 

TWCobra

Senior Member
Do pilots use an independent source of oxygen compared to the cabin? Is there any regulation regarding this?
Yes. Separate oxy bottles and masks with pressure regulators

I have been going of the FR24 data of the flight. I have a very bad feeling.

This aircraft descended in a straight line towards the mountains at VMO+5 knots or at a constant Indicated speed of 355 knots +/- 5 knots.

I know of no autopilot mode that will allow that speed and the average rate of descent achieved.

If the pilot were incapacitated, say by a depressurisation with the autopilot on; we would have had another Helios accident where the the auto-pilot would have leveled off at the selected altitude, continued to Dusseldorf and entered a holding pattern till fuel exhaustion.

This aircraft did none of the things associated with the Airbus Emergency Descent procedure which involves initiating a descent via the autopilot (manually if you really have to but not recommended because it is easy to get close to a stall), selecting an altitude to descend to, turning off the airway to avoid traffic below you and setting a suitable speed for descent allowing for possible damage to the aircraft.

Instead it shows every sign of being hand flown into the mountains with the autopilot disengaged.

Reasons: Incompetence. Suicide. Terrorism. Take your pick.

I really do hope I am way wrong here.
 

Dechelski

New Member
So what do we think caused the quick decent? I've just had a look on FlightRadar and it looks like the plane starts to lose altitude just as soon as it crosses land. It descends from FL380 until it reaches its final resting place. My only confusion is that within the same distance it travelled whilst descending, it could have reached Marseille Provence Airport, Nice Cote d'Azur Airport and Turin Cuneo Levaldigi Airport.

According to FlightRadar, descent started at 09.29am and ended at 09.41am = 12 minutes. Other news sources are claiming that the descent only lasted 8 minutes. Either way, lets look at possibilities;

- Complete Engine Failure - (although I was sure that a plane could glide for 250 miles given the right conditions)???
- Decompression, again after a quick decent you would think that some form of radio contact would be made with ATC???
- Pitot tubes becoming frozen - although the weather conditions were reportedly good and visibility and horizon points could have been made?

Not conspiracy, but enough to encourage healthy pondering... Thoughts?
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
Apparently the recovered CVR files are shedding some light on what might have happened......
I find "suicide-by-airplane" (IF it is indeed the case here) to be reprehensible.

Knowing about post-9/11 features (which I will not discuss in an open Forum)...makes this fully plausible....disgusting, but plausible.
 

TWCobra

Senior Member
I went through the figures/systems again last night and came up again with this scenario.

The aircraft looks to have been hand flown all the way down.

If what the NYT is reporting is true, we may have another EgyptAir/Silkair on our hands.

Speaking as a pilot, this is actually the worst possible outcome.
 

TEEJ

Senior Member
yeah I think he pasted the wrong link in http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?t=291723
Try that one.

This guy is talking about fighter jets being alongside: http://jimstone.is/a320crash.html
I think he might just be REALLY EXAGGERATING This account:
from here: http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/566154/Germanwings-4U9525-plane-crash-French-Alps-witness
There was a jet fighter scrambled from Orange airbase. The Quick Reaction Alert Dassault Mirage 2000 was scrambled at 1050 CET (0950 GMT). Image of the Mirage 2000 being scrambled.



http://pics-aeronef.discutfree.com/t7882p190-mirage-2000-serie-de-1111-a-1200
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member
Question for the pilots and air transport types here.

Is there any scenario where the pilot could leave the cockpit for some reason, may be a visit to the kazzi (toilet / John / heads / insert your local colloquialism here). Then while his out a situation develop that means the co-pilot can't leave the controls to let him in? How are the cockpit doors locked? bolt on the inside, swipe card, key?

Just running various ideas through the old noggin.

edit - the BBC are saying the reports of a pilot leaving the flight deck are 'unconfirmed'
 

appletini

New Member
Question for the pilots and air transport types here.

Is there any scenario where the pilot could leave the cockpit for some reason, may be a visit to the kazzi (toilet / John / heads / insert your local colloquialism here). Then while his out a situation develop that means the co-pilot can't leave the controls to let him in? How are the cockpit doors locked? bolt on the inside, swipe card, key?

Just running various ideas through the old noggin.

edit - the BBC are saying the reports of a pilot leaving the flight deck are 'unconfirmed'
I'm not a pilot, but the system is designed to let the pilot in after a certain amount of time, just for reasons like incapacitation. The only scenario I can think of where it wouldn't work would be a deliberate action by the remaining pilot in the cockpit.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member
Ok next question for the aviation types

As far as I can tell most Airbus products (if not all) have a 'glass cockpit', I know the flight system is at least triple redundant, but... is the cockpit door locking system part of the main flight systems or a separate one? and is there any chance that a power failure, or systems crash would effect the locking mechanism?
 

MikeC

Closed Account
I'm not a pilot, but the system is designed to let the pilot in after a certain amount of time, just for reasons like incapacitation. The only scenario I can think of where it wouldn't work would be a deliberate action by the remaining pilot in the cockpit.
Yes the pilot inside the cockpit can lock out anyone outside, even if they do have "the code" - see here - I wonder if hte "Australian pilot" quoted is someone on here?? :)
 

TWCobra

Senior Member
I hope you guys understand that pilots would prefer not to go into details about security procedures on public forums.

Suffice to say that the contingencies are covered, except in this case. That will probably be subject to high level review and changes made.

It is no secret on this forum that I regard the MH370 incident to be of a very similar nature.
 

MikeC

Closed Account
If both these are found to be deliberate I wonder if pilots will not be allowed to be alone in the cockpit in the future - if one leaves then a Flight Attendant (or 3rd crew or dead heading...) has to be there...??
 

appletini

New Member
If both these are found to be deliberate I wonder if pilots will not be allowed to be alone in the cockpit in the future - if one leaves then a Flight Attendant (or 3rd crew or dead heading...) has to be there...??
Someone may correct me if I'm wrong but I believe this is already enforced in the U.S., which seems logical given how sturdy the doors are after 9/11.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/flight/a10270/in-light-of-mh370-evidence-could-plane-cockpits-be-too-secure-16611747/
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member
I hope you guys understand that pilots would prefer not to go into details about security procedures on public forums.

Suffice to say that the contingencies are covered, except in this case. That will probably be subject to high level review and changes made.
oh understand that fully mate, just running through some scenarios in my head that could explain a locked out pilot without the obvious one you mentioned.

I noticed that a while back there was at least one case of a faulty cockpit door on an Air India 787, and was wondering if something similar could have happened here.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22528431

However I do understand that the chances of a jammed door AND an inflight emergency happening at the same time are infinitesimally small, and was wondering if a fault in the flight systems could both jam the door and bring the plane down. (of course I also understand that such an event would also be a one in a million chance.... but such slim chances have happened in the past)
 

derwoodii

Senior Member
scenario aircraft levels off, crew no 1 opens door to leave at that moment a passenger or passenger's use force to disable crew no1 hold door enter cockpit subdues crew no 2 the rest unfolds.

As no claims known that was act of bad guys its unlikely.

Have we been told air crew names or passenger list I cannot seem to find or is this on hold till next of kin and investigation unfolds
 

Rob

Member
I understand that the pilot was alone in the cabin, and the co-pilot was trying to enter, and that there is no "auto-pilot" state that would lead the plane on a decent over 10 minutes, and I understand that this implies that the pilot was deliberately guiding the plane and all its passengers to its demise.

But I'm sorry, I am not willing to accept that right now.
The pilot was experienced, flying for 10 years, and according to the NY Times article the conversations between the co-pilot and the pilot were "very smooth, very cool". No indication that the pilot was about to commit mass murder.
Also, this crash does not make any sense as a "mass murder, suicide" mission a-la 911. There just does not seem ANY reason to slam a plane full of teenagers into a mountain.
So, before we surrender to our worst fears (of non-sensical mass murder), can we PLEASE consider some other options ?

For example, the case were the pilot, being alone in the cockpit, became incapacitated, and the plane is still on "manual" setting. What would happen is such a case ?

I presume the plane would fly in a direction and ramp set by the (now incapacitated) pilot. Is that right ?

If so, did the plane, over the last 10 minutes until the crash, really follow EXACTLY the intended flight path ? Or was it simply following a strait line, albeit with a decent of some 3000 ft/minute ?
 

Henk001

Active Member
For example, the case were the pilot, being alone in the cockpit, became incapacitated, and the plane is still on "manual" setting. What would happen is such a case ?
He/she would have been able to unlock the door with a code. I understand that the official protocol is that a pilot should never be alone in the cockpit, when the other pilot leaves for some reason, another crew member should temporarely take his/her place.

Edit: In Europe this is not standard procedure for all companies, I just found out
 
Last edited by a moderator:

JFDee

Senior Member
I hope you guys understand that pilots would prefer not to go into details about security procedures on public forums
There is a recent public video about one flavour of reinforced cockpit doors which is said to be associated with Airbus:

 

JFDee

Senior Member
did the plane, over the last 10 minutes until the crash, really follow EXACTLY the intended flight path ? Or was it simply following a strait line, albeit with a decent of some 3000 ft/minute ?
TWCobra has stated in a previous post that to his knowledge there is no way the descent was controlled by autopilot. I think we have to take the word of an experienced flight captain here ...
 

occams rusty scissor

Senior Member
A point of curiosity since there are pilots on this forum. Can the door code be changed from inside the cockpit?
From http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/pilot-sabotage-a-plausible-explanation-for-germanwings-crash/story-fnizu68q-1227279954304 :

Cobra or Weedwacker - does this sound pretty accurate?
 

occams rusty scissor

Senior Member
This is consistant with the procedure described in the video I linked above, at 3:56.
Sorry, I missed that for some reason, was too busy flicking between stories. So then yes, it would seem a pretty deliberate act to have that door remain shut, as in taking conscious effort to maintain the lock. Pretty ugly situation unfolding there...
 

Qualiall

Member
What Henk001 said--confirming pilot suicide

But was also going to point out that there are other ways to get locked out--like the Delta flight not too long ago
 

TWCobra

Senior Member
TWCobra has stated in a previous post that to his knowledge there is no way the descent was controlled by autopilot. I think we have to take the word of an experienced flight captain here ...
I may have been a bit in error with that. The sounds of the altitude selector being wound down were recorded. You don't need to do that if manually flying, however that may have just been to gently initiate the descent and the AP was disconnected some time in the descent when it was established. Certainly when flying at VMO it wouldnt take much of a change in wind or turbulence to put the speed through VMO+6 where the protections activate.

The investigation will bring all that to light.

The speed was what got my suspicion in the first place, mainly because the system would not default to max speed in the event of pilot incapacitation. It had to be selected manually through the autopilot or hand flown.

Now we know for sure. A black day for aviation. :(
 
Top