March 24, 2015
150 feared dead as Airbus A 320 flight 4U 9525 crashes in the French Alps
It has been confirmed that a Germanwings 24 year-old Airbus A320 has crashed in the French Alps while en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf. The plane is understood to have had 144 passengers, 2 pilots and 4 cabin crew on board and France’s President Nichols Hollande has appeared on television to confirm that there would seem to be little to no chance of anyone surviving the crash. It is understood that 57 of the passengers were German, including a party of 16 exchange schoolchildren, and 45 were Spanish.
Germanwings is a subsidiary company of Lufthansa and it is Lufthansa which is releasing the majority of press statements. The plane, flight number 4U 9525, set off from Barcelona at 0855hrs GMT bound for Dusseldorf. It was at 0945hrs GMT that problems on the ground were detected and the plane is believed to have crashed into the French Alps just outside the French town of Digne-les-Bains eight minutes later, though it was not officially logged as having crashed until 1037hrs GMT. Early speculation is leaning away from some form of catastrophic failure of the plane bearing in mind the time difference between the perceived problems and the crash, though mystery and speculation surrounds the question as to why no SOS signal was received from the pilots during the 8 minute descent. The plane was believed to have been flying at an altitude of 36,000 feet, crashing into the Alps at an approximate altitude of 6,000 feet with such force that the largest pieces of debris have been described as being no bigger than a small car.
While every sympathy must go out to the family and friends of all passengers and crew on board, the crash itself comes at an already bad time for Lufthansa, who has been subject to numerous strikes throughout the last few months with regard to the transfer of business to the low-cost arm of the airline, Germanwings. France’s President Hollande has also made it clear that search and rescue is likely to be a very tedious and drawn out procedure owing to the remoteness of the crash site and difficult terrain. However the French Interior Minister has confirmed that one of the flight data recorders has been recovered early on in the search proceedings.
The shock of such an accident comes both from European airlines having an exceptional safety record, and the track history of the Airbus 320 which is seen as one of the safest large passenger planes flying today.