Air Crash Consultants

Germanwings Flight 9525 and the Locked Door Controversy

To lock or not to lock: the burning question in the brave new world of aviation security


Woodland Hills, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/22/2016 --To lock or not to lock, that is the question.

Anyone who has been locked out of their own house or car understands the need for some kind of solution for the crisis of being accidentally caught on the wrong side of the impregnable lock. In a "normal" situation on the ground, being locked out of a house or car means one must turn to a locksmith. Problem solved. Obviously this is not a solution for the airborne. I don't see commercial airlines adding a locksmith to their flight crew any time soon.

In many ways, the problem poses an issue not unlike the government's need to crack phone security. Both questions involved a desperately serious aspect of security. While cockpit security is not a litmus test of the honesty or the arrogance of those in power, it shares the feature of being a pressing need for those in immediate danger. It poses the same issue of the inevitable circulation of hacking methodology, once a solution exists. As a consequence of the Germanwings 9525 crash where the infamous co-pilot locked the pilot out and deliberately crashed the plane, we now have the unthinkable possibility of having to protect the passengers from the pilots. We now have a looming spectre of not only terrorism from without, but from within. We now live in a world where no one believes the cockpit door should be unbreachable, on the off chance of pilot suicide. Where now do we to draw the line? Where is the "jimmy" button in case of emergency? (I don't mean "jimmy" in the sense of that physical crowbar, but rather just a solution to getting the door open.)

Today we have the technical miracle of GPS vehicle tracking systems which are enabled to unlock a car. If such a thing were available for a plane's cockpit door, then would it make plane security less because the system would be inevitably (or maybe irresistibly) hackable? Is the answer some pilot keypad, thumb or eye print, digital or computer technology or tracking, remote GPS lock control, physical gate or tangible key technology? And how to guard that the solution will remain secure, and not become another risk factor?

I wish I had an answer. All I end up doing is coming up with more questions. As an Air Crash Consultant and frequent flyer, I do believe the best think tanks should be working toward devising solutions. Of course, this should be happening simultaneously as authorities and airlines work together on the prevention strategy of improving pilot screening. What do you think?

Let me know your thoughts on this crucial topic at

About Air Crash Consultants
Air Crash Consultants, a division of Wrongful Death Consultants, is a service consultancy providing strategic litigation support in U.S and International aviation cases, and various aspects of aviation-related personal injury and wrongful death litigation cases, working with top US and International law firms. We are legal case coordinators and client maintenance providers.The company is situated in California, but operates internationally.