The Tragedy of Germanwings Flight 9525 and the Catch 22 of Aviation Safety, an Editorial
Cockpit door designed to lock trouble out locks in Suicidal Pilot
Woodland Hills, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/02/2015 --As an advocate (not a lawyer) of fair compensation for the victims of plane crashes, I have been closely following the story behind the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 and the now notorious 27-year-old co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz. As is always the case, a team of expert investigators will dig out the facts to determine the most likely scenario behind the crash. That careful investigation will take a year at the very least. In this Germanwings accident, the one factor that stands out already is the role played by the pilot's state of mind in what appears now to be his deliberate collision course with the French Alps. It is now common knowledge that the plane disintegrated on impact with the Massif des Trois-Évêchés. Imagine how horrified the families were when the transcript of the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder) was quickly leaked by tabloids. Journalists have been shouldering each other out of the way to get to the front of the line, "scooping" each with another "leaked" nugget. A girlfriend's interview. A medical report here. A video there. TV commentators and newspapers from CNN and the venerable New York Times to the most scurrilous tabloids are spouting "the facts" faster than investigators can have gotten to the information. Tweeting the news as I do results in loads of source-checking, and plenty of on-going head-scratching moments while weeding out wild supposition masquerading as news in sources one would normally consider impeccable. When one source says "the plane is blue," another says "the plane is red." Sometimes I can determine which is the truth, but sometimes I have to leave it to readers to puzzle out.
I have been working Wrongful Death cases for some forty-seven years now. I am a consultant to attorneys across the globe who represent the families of Wrongful Death victims. Each investigation is exactly the same in terms of the emotional impact of the accident. Devastating. Whether the case may or may not end up in court, whether or not the accident catches the media's attention, every aspect is always impossibly difficult for the families. Some accidents seem similar because they share a factor, whether it be similar weather conditions, mechanical difficulties, or a particular flaw in a particular model of plane.
Some aviation accidents personify extremes. Consider that while there is always some degree of speculation as to an accident's cause, MH370 brought as many conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork in this past twelve months as Amelia Earhart's disappearance has in the past 87 years. Everything seems plausible when people are desperate for an explanation. Because in this age of cell phones and satellites, there is simply no explanation for a plane to vanish, MH370 has become the "poster child" for speculation. I expect MH370 will continue to spawn new theories and will endure as a mystery until, at some point, the wreckage will be found and examined.
If I were comparing MH370 and Germanwings 9525, I could write a whole piece examining the conflict of government transparency vs. individual confidentiality, but that was not my intent today. I was just thinking of aviation safety, and how 9/11 became the catalyst for upgraded multifaceted flight deck security. One outcome of 9/11 is the impregnable, indestructible cockpit door, the brain child of countless engineering hours, security and scientific research. Passengers since 9/11 have flown safe in the knowledge that no intruder could again gain entry to the cockpit and overpower the pilot thanks to redundant enhanced security precautions and a door designed to keep the dangerous people out. Now there's a cockpit voice recording that appears to show that same safe cockpit door is the barrier that kept the PIC from being able to save everyone aboard. Captain Patrick Sondenheimer died trying to get that door open.
The impregnable cockpit door, the terrible irony of Germanwings Flight 9525.
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