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Germanwings tragedy sparks dialogue on airline safety, mental health

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In the aftermath of the Germanwings plane crash in the Alps, an international dialogue has begun. Although Germanwings’ parent company Lufthansa declared that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was fit to fly, on March 24 Germanwings Flight 9525 made impact with a mountain in the French Alps, after the plane’s pilot was locked out of the cockpit. Internet records from the days before the flight have been collected from Lubitz’s iPad and they show searches for medical treatments, suicide methods and cockpit door safety.

The plane, an Airbus A320, was travelling from Barcelona to Dusseldorf when it crashed, killing all 144 passengers and six crew members. The first responders to the scene reported that the plane was “pulverized” and there were no survivors.

As evidence emerges, it is apparent that Lubitz had a history of depression, which he reported to Lufthansa when he reapplied for a position in their training program. He was readmitted after passing medical and psychological screening which Lufthansa considers state of the art.

After 9/11, nearly every commercial passenger jet gives ultimate override power to the pilot in the cockpit to allow others to enter the cockpit. The cockpit door on the A320, designed in 2002, has a keypad for coded entry, but the person in the cockpit ultimately has the power to lock the door from the inside. The United States has a protocol which prevents any person from being alone in the cockpit, requiring a crew member to step in if one pilot has to use the restroom, as the Germanwings pilot did at the time of the crash. There is no similar requirement in Europe.

“If one person takes 149 people with him into death, it’s another word, not suicide,” Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa CEO told CBS News. Although original statements from the company stand by the crash as an accident, increasingly compelling evidence has emerged to illuminate Lubitz’s intentions. Viewers from around the world hesitated to say the word “terrorism,” in response to the crash, but so far, Lubitz does not have any connection to a terrorist organization.

“There is no indication of a nexus to terrorism at this time,” U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.

Information for this article was taken from nytimes.com, cbsnews.com.

 

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