Video: German passenger flight crashes after “abnormal situation” declared

posted at 9:01 am on March 24, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

A flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf on the discount airline Germanwings crashed in the French Alps despite good weather, and officials say that all 148 people on board have been killed. The pilot signaled that the flight had an “abnormal situation” before the plane went down in an area that will be difficult to access. The debris has been spotted, however:


World News Videos | US News Videos

A passenger plane crashed in southern France with 148 people on board, French officials said.

President Francois Hollande said there are “apparently no survivors.”

The passenger jet, operated by Germanwings, crashed in the French Alps region near the town of Digne as it traveled from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, Hollande said. …

Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, released a statement on social media as reports emerged of the crash.

“We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew on 4U 9525. If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors,” said Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr in the statement.

ABC reports that tracking data from Flightradar24 shows that the plane began a descent from 38,000 to 6,800 feet, at which point the tracking on the flight was lost. The loss of altitude in the Alps would be strange, and of course deadly, as the peaks in that range go as high as 13,000 feet. The ABC analyst calls this “baffling,” making a “big descent” into that kind of terrain.

Sky News reported specifically on the “abnormal situation”:

But what does an “abnormal situation” mean? CBS News discusses what investigators will probe in the crash:

We’ll have more as events unfold.

Update, 11:30 AM: Not much more is known at this point, and even the speculation has been muted. Inclement weather will impede progress to the crash site. Meanwhile, the AP notes this tragic update from Germany:

Update, 11:36 am: The US says that there is “no indication of a nexus to terrorism” at this time. Based on an eyewitness report, it sounds like mechanical issues might be more likely:

The owner of a campground near the crash site, Pierre Polizzi, said he heard the plane making curious noises shortly before it crashed.

“At 11.30, I heard a series of loud noises in the air. There are often fighter jets flying over, so I thought it sounded just like that. I looked outside, but I couldn’t see any fighter planes,” he told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “The noise I heard was long — like 8 seconds — as if the plane was going more slowly than a military plane. There was another long noise after about 30 seconds.”

Polizzi said the plane crashed about 5-to-8 kilometers (3-to-11 miles) from his place, which is closed for the season.

“It’s going to be very difficult to get there. The mountain is snowy and very hostile,” he said.

The municipal sports hall of Seyne-les-Alpes, 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Val d’Allos ski resort, was being set up to take bodies from the crash, according to Sandrine Julien of the town hall.

“The plane is disintegrated,” Gilbert Sauvan of the local council told the Les Echos newspaper. “The largest debris is the size of a car.”

Hopefully the response teams can get there quickly.


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Comments

Every air travelers nightmare. God be with them.

itsspideyman on March 24, 2015 at 9:05 AM

Should we hope, or not hope that it’s terrorism?

ParisParamus on March 24, 2015 at 9:07 AM

Prayers ascending for family and friends…

OmahaConservative on March 24, 2015 at 9:09 AM

Abnormal situation?

Have to wait for more facts to emerge. Can’t speculate yet.

rbj on March 24, 2015 at 9:10 AM

Why would anyone hope that this is terrorism???

kkaneff79 on March 24, 2015 at 9:12 AM

Another gold star for multiculturalism?

Star Bird on March 24, 2015 at 9:14 AM

Prayers ascending

cmsinaz on March 24, 2015 at 9:16 AM

Should we hope, or not hope that it’s terrorism?

ParisParamus on March 24, 2015 at 9:07 AM

I suppose that we at least be about to find out in this case. Authorities will be able to recover the black boxes and bodies from the aircraft disaster.

SC.Charlie on March 24, 2015 at 9:30 AM

I’m sitting here with chills. I live near Düsseldorf, fly Germanwings frequently, and my husband’s company flies people between Barcelona and Düsseldorf all the time. So sad…

ktrich on March 24, 2015 at 9:31 AM

I don’t think anyone would hope it was terrorism, but if you fly you want to have confidence in the equipment and those who operate it. If the explanation is simply pilot error or equipment malfunction, as it often is, well that is an unsettling thing to have in the back of your mind every time you get on a plane. Commercial and private commuter planes should not just drop out of the sky.

Rufus2step on March 24, 2015 at 9:35 AM

I remember flying over the Alps on a clear day, just jagged rock like shark’s teeth. If some foul play was afoot, that’s the place in the route to do it.

Marcus on March 24, 2015 at 9:38 AM

Not a week ago I had a buddy return from Europe lauding Lufthansa and Germanwings.

It’s been a while since the last major crash, I wonder statistically how often this happens, outside of Livestock Airways flying from Nigeria to Congo.

Bishop on March 24, 2015 at 9:39 AM

Sad.

Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, released a statement on social media as reports emerged of the crash.

Well, at least Lufthansa will be fine.

‘Own’ Germanwings as a separate entity so they can limit liability from the big piggy bank and open the door to save costs with rookie crews and maintenance using contractors with lower cert requirements. And name-isolation as a bonus!

Harvard would be proud.

Tsar of Earth on March 24, 2015 at 9:40 AM

fuel problems and/or engine trouble. If it was just cabin decompression, the pilot could have leveled out at 12,000 ft and survived. He knew he was over the Alps, and he knew dropping to 6,800 was a death sentence.

Tom Servo on March 24, 2015 at 9:40 AM

Every air travelers nightmare. God be with them.

itsspideyman on March 24, 2015 at 9:05 AM

You mean other than having to fly United?

Bishop on March 24, 2015 at 9:40 AM

From the headline thread, more info here;

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/24/german-a320-airbus-plane-crashes-french-alps

From the link;

The Airbus A320 making the flight for Lufthansa’s lowcost arm, Germanwings, crashed near the small mountain village of Barcelonette in the southern Alps.

A distress call was made by the aircraft at 10.47am, while the plane was “in an abnormal situation”, the French transport ministry said. The crash happened shortly afterwards, it added.

The aircraft disappeared off the radar at around 11.20am, Le Figaro reported. The plane dropped from 11,500 metres to 2,100 metres (38,000ft to 7,000ft) in nine minutes between 10.31am and 10.40am, air radar services said.

The distress call to air traffic control in Marseilles was “mayday, mayday, mayday” and the pilot requested an emergency descent, meaning all airspace had to be cleared below the route of the aircraft.

Note the timeline;

1031-1040h A/C descends from FL38 to FL7, average RoD approx 3450ft/min. (Anyone know what the dash 1 for the A320 says about this?) Note that below FL 10 in that area, you are not over the mountains, you are pretty much in them.

1047- Mayday call. (This is a step beyond “declaring an emergency”, signals A/C is in immediate danger.)

1120- A/C drops off radar. (Due to no longer being airborne, or ground clutter in mountains,undetermined. And was this a transponder interrogate radar or was it a skin-paint?)

The initial descent could indicate a cabin pressure failure. The first rule there is get the aircraft down to a safe pressure altitude for the passengers, which is below 10,000 feet. What puzzles me is why an emergency wasn’t declared at that point along with a request for clearance to nearest field for emergency landing.

The Mayday call 16 minutes into the emergency indicates a major “incident”. Up to that point, the aircrew may have assumed they had things under control, and abruptly found out that they didn’t.

The fact that the aircraft was airborne for another 33 minutes is puzzling. Usually, a Mayday call means “we’re going down, send help NOW”. As stated above, flying the A/C comes well before communicating. The aircrew may have been extremely “busy” trying to keep the A/C in the air.

SWAG; cabin pressure loss due to possible A/C structural failure. Progressive worsening of condition culminating in partial or full airframe failure resulting in loss of control, impact.

As I said, just a SWAG.

clear ether

eon

eon on March 24, 2015 at 9:43 AM

Peter Greenberg of CBS sure added a crucial consideration for the investigation:

At what point did this happen? … At altitude or on the ground … This will help investigators.

Tsar of Earth on March 24, 2015 at 9:49 AM

ktrich on March 24, 2015 at 9:31 AM

So sad indeed. Your situation brings it very close to home.

HonestLib on March 24, 2015 at 9:58 AM

Should we hope, or not hope that it’s terrorism? ParisParamus on March 24, 2015 at 9:07 AM

Don’t understand why you would hope either way, but hope is reserved for the future not the past.

Akzed on March 24, 2015 at 10:00 AM

(snips) Descends from FL38 to FL7. Note that below FL 10 in that area, you are not over the mountains, you are pretty much in them.

What puzzles me…

eon on March 24, 2015 at 9:43 AM

Sequential processing of SA under extreme stress? Captains thoughts:

1. Lost cabin pressure, have to get to FL10 fast.

2. Crap, FL10 is (as you say) *in* the mountains.

In that unfortunate order.

Tsar of Earth on March 24, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Not a week ago I had a buddy return from Europe lauding Lufthansa and Germanwings.

It’s been a while since the last major crash, I wonder statistically how often this happens, outside of Livestock Airways flying from Nigeria to Congo.

Bishop on March 24, 2015 at 9:39 AM

I flew a Seneca III owned by the Navajo Nation (four corners) and the stories I could tell. I just wanted the hours logged on someone else’s dime.

HonestLib on March 24, 2015 at 10:04 AM

Sequential processing of SA under extreme stress? Captains thoughts:

1. Lost cabin pressure, have to get to FL10 fast.

2. Crap, FL10 is (as you say) *in* the mountains.

In that unfortunate order.

Tsar of Earth on March 24, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Yes fast and a tad bit busy. I posted this on the headline thread. For a 320.

“03 – EMERGENCY DESCENT – IMMEDIATE ACTIONS

# – CREW OXY MASKS……………….ON
# – SIGNS………………………….ON
# – ALT SEL KNOB…………………TURN AND PULL
# – HDG SEL KNOB…………………TURN AND PULL
# – SPD SEL KNOB…………………PULL

> The recommendation is to descent with the AP engaged.
> If the A/THR is not engaged: THR levers put in IDLE.
> If the A/THR is engaged, check FMA displays “IDLE”.

# – SPEED BRAKES…………………FULL

> Extension of the speed brakes will significantly increase VLS.
> to avoid AP disconnection and automatic retraction of the speedbrakes, due to possible activation of angle-of-attack
protection, allow the speed to increase before starting to use the speedbrakes.

# When Descent Establihed:

> EMER DESC TO FL 100, or minimum allowable altitude.
> SPEED Max or appropriate.
– Caution : descernt at the maximum or appropriate speed.
> If structural damage is suspected, use the flight controls with care and reduce speed as appropriate.
> Landing Gear may be extended below 25000 ft.
> In such case, speed must be reduced to VLO/VLE.
– NOTE: the recomendation is to descent with the autopilot engaged.
> Use of the auto pilot is also permitted in EXPEDITE mode.

# ENG MODE SEL……IGN
# ATC / TDR………NOTIFY / SEL 7700

> Notify ATC of the nature of the emergency, and state your intentions.
> Select transponder code A 7700, or transmit a distress message on VHF 121.5Mhz or HF 2182khz or 8364 khz.
> To save oxigen, set the oxygen diluter selector to the N position.
> If the oxygen diluter selector remains at 100%, the quantity of oxygen may not be sufficient for the entire descent profile.

# MAX FL……..100/MEA.

> If cabin altitude morethan 14000 ft:

# PAX OXY MASKS…….MAN ON.

> This action confirms that the passenger oxygen masks are released.
> Notify the cabin crew when the aircraft reaches a safe flight level, and when cabin oxygen is no more necessary.

HonestLib on March 24, 2015 at 9:33 AM”

HonestLib on March 24, 2015 at 10:07 AM

Mombasa Air Safari.

Hair raising experience.

Bishop on March 24, 2015 at 10:10 AM

Prayers for everyone onboard, and their families. :(

Midas on March 24, 2015 at 10:23 AM

CNN ratings boosting event!

(Sure enough I checked their home page – ALL FEARED DEAD…. its just sad at this point CNN)

Defenestratus on March 24, 2015 at 10:24 AM

It was announced that the aircraft was 24 years old. My guess is that they will be looking closely at the maintenance records.

SC.Charlie on March 24, 2015 at 10:28 AM

Mombasa Air Safari.

Hair raising experience.

Bishop on March 24, 2015 at 10:10 AM

An airline ran by an accountant. Bet no cost cutting and Safety First. No flight experience required. The Cessna Grand Caravan is a fun bird to fly and nice payload for a piston single.

Managing Director.
Mohammed Harunany has 25 years experience steering airlines at the coast. A qualified proffesional accountant he keeps a keen eye on all management issues. Mohamed has served for 8 years as treasurer to Mombasa and Coast Tourism Association the coast region tourism umbrella body.

HonestLib on March 24, 2015 at 10:32 AM

Prayers to all the people on the flight and to their families.

PatriotGal2257 on March 24, 2015 at 10:32 AM

SWAG; cabin pressure loss due to possible A/C structural failure. Progressive worsening of condition culminating in partial or full airframe failure resulting in loss of control, impact. […]

eon on March 24, 2015 at 9:43 AM

Further speculation: Rear pressure bulkhead blow-out, with decompression and damage to tail group controls? Ultimately flew into dead-end situation with mountainous terrain due to compromised controls and inability to climb (due to either oxygen-issue or mechanical damage)?

bofh on March 24, 2015 at 10:58 AM

looks like they heard nothing from the plane at all, it was air traffic control sending the mayday and abnormal situation messages when the flight started to drop..

irishguy on March 24, 2015 at 11:09 AM

May God have mercy upon those poor souls. Prayers ascending for the passengers, crew and families of all.

Mommys Little Darling on March 24, 2015 at 11:39 AM

“If it ain’t Boeing, I’m not going!”

Breakdown of manifest by nationality:

147 Infidels,
1 Martyr.

Another Drew on March 24, 2015 at 11:56 AM

Why would anyone hope that this is terrorism???

kkaneff79 on March 24, 2015 at 9:12 AM

Haven’t you gotten an answer from the crowd that desperately wanted the blond, blue-eyed Norwegian mass murderer to be a “secret Muzzie”?

corona79 on March 24, 2015 at 12:06 PM

Haven’t you gotten an answer from the crowd that desperately wanted the blond, blue-eyed Norwegian mass murderer to be a “secret Muzzie”?

corona79 on March 24, 2015 at 12:06 PM

Geez dude, sit back and give it more thought. Trolling on a thread about the death of 148? Bad jokes I get, but downright trolling? Have some shame.

HonestLib on March 24, 2015 at 12:24 PM

corona79 on March 24, 2015 at 12:06 PM

..and yet you are the one introducing this to this thread.

lexhamfox on March 24, 2015 at 12:33 PM

“The plane is disintegrated,” Gilbert Sauvan of the local council told the Les Echos newspaper.

Hmm, couldn’t have been a plane then. Must have been a missile.

9/11 Conspiracy tard

xblade on March 24, 2015 at 12:49 PM

corona, Hamas-lover, two bads never makes one good.

Schadenfreude on March 24, 2015 at 12:54 PM

Haven’t you gotten an answer from the crowd that desperately wanted the blond, blue-eyed Norwegian mass murderer to be a “secret Muzzie”?
corona79 on March 24, 2015 at 12:06 PM

What crowd would that be? A crowd in your beer befuddled brain. Lay off the Corona.

Neitherleftorright on March 24, 2015 at 1:25 PM

Lockerbie Redux?

Kuffar on March 24, 2015 at 1:38 PM

Plunged for 8 mins., with no Mayday

Schadenfreude on March 24, 2015 at 1:50 PM

From the Daily Mail article:

Witnesses have described hearing an explosion ‘like the sound of dynamite’ then seeing fighter jets fly past, suggesting the passenger plane had been under military escort.

Harry Reid on March 24, 2015 at 1:56 PM

muslim. terrorists.

maryo on March 24, 2015 at 4:17 PM

18,000′ is a livable altitude for the short-term. Sounds as though they didn’t have control of the aircraft.

iosivich on March 24, 2015 at 6:02 PM

Have some shame.

HonestLib on March 24, 2015 at 12:24 PM

Doubtful that can be achieved with corona.

The idea of decompression only makes sense if there is structural damage preventing them turning to a safer route. You don’t have to continue on your way in an emergency. I would be making a turn to the closest airport or out of the mountains with an “explosive” decompression. It sounds more like they continued straight ahead in their descent. I hope that doesn’t speak to bad cockpit resource management on the part of the pilots. :(

Prayers for all the families.

GWB on March 24, 2015 at 8:38 PM

1047- Mayday call. (This is a step beyond “declaring an emergency”, signals A/C is in immediate danger.)

USA – Emergency
International (IACO):
– A distress call (situation where the aircraft requires immediate assistance) is
prefixed: MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY.

– An urgency message (situation not requiring immediate assistance) is
prefixed:
PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN

Mike Morrissey on March 24, 2015 at 9:48 PM