March 25, 2015
Germanwings 4U9525 flight data recorder still missing – damaged cockpit voice recorder recovered
The devastating impact and mountainous terrain has meant that 36 hours after the crash of Germanwings flight 4U9525, only a damaged cockpit voice recorder has been recovered so far as search parties continue to scour the surrounding hillside for the flight data recorder. It will take some time of the cockpit voice recorder to be repaired so it is not known when any confirmation on the cause of the accident will be released. What is currently known is that 28 minutes after taking off from Barcelona at 10.01am local time, 20 minutes later than scheduled, the Airbus A320 reached a cruising altitude of 38,000ft. A few minutes later it is known that it began a relatively slow descent before ploughing onto the French Alps just outside the village of Seyne-les-Alpes approximately eight minutes after that.
A French weather station confirmed that the meteorological conditions were calm at the time and the sky was “completely clear”, with virtually no wind. Sebastien Giroux, who was one of the first eyewitnesses, indicated that he observed the aircraft flying very low. “There was no smoke or particular sound or sign of anything wrong, but at the altitude it was flying it was clearly not going to make it over the mountains. I didn’t see anything wrong with the plane, but it was too low.” he told BFM-TV. Gilles Gravier, president of Tourism in the Val d’Allos ski resort area, said nothing of the crash had been heard in his village. He advised that 400 gendarmes, firefighters and emergency search and rescue personnel had been mobilized to a site he described as “extremely difficult” to reach.
While speculation as to the cause of the accident is rife, the fact that the wreckage site covers only 2km and flight radar images show no indication of breakup of the fuselage in flight would tend to rule out a catastrophic mid-air explosion of terrorist origin. However with earlier reports of an emergency signal being received from the pilots being refuted, focus has now turned to why no emergency signal was issued by the pilots during the eight minute descent. The force of impact has had a catastrophic effect on both the plane and the state of passengers’ bodies, while rescuers on the scene are known to be finding the process of searching through the debris a harrowing experience. It has been confirmed that there were 144 passengers, 4 cabin crew and 2 pilots on board the plane, none of whom survived the crash. Of those passengers, tragically 16 were German schoolchildren and two teachers from the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium high school, Haltern am See, in northwest Germany. It is currently known that 65 of the passengers were from Germany, 45 were from Spain, three were from Britain, two from Australia and one from Belgium.
Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann said on Wednesday at a press conference that Germanwings and Lufthansa had set up care centers for passengers’ families in Düsseldorf, Barcelona, Frankfurt and Munich. “We have now contact with 123 families,” he confirmed. “Taking care of every one of them, individually, is our top priority.” Winkelmann made it clear that the entire Lufthansa Group was using its worldwide resources to establish what happened, while also caring for the victims’ family members, “This is a massive effort by our group,” he said. Germanwings intend to operate two special flights for family members from Düsseldorf and Barcelona tomorrow, on top of an individual flight for Germanwings’ employees. “We have people from Lufthansa Technik, Airbus, Lufthansa and others at the site in France. I believe we have the best [people] available worldwide,” Winkelmann confirmed. He also acknowledged that some Germanwings flights had to be canceled on Wednesday as some flight crew made it clear they were “unfit to fly.” He also said that “other carriers, such as airberlin, are also supporting us in transporting our passengers.”