With little information known earlier in the week of why the Germanwing, a jet with 150 people on board, crashed into the mountains northwest of Nice (France) amid a relatively clear sky on Tuesday, investigators are now saying that one pilot left the cockpit prior to the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in. According to an audio recording, the investigator said “The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer. And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer. You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.” While the audio appeared to give some understanding into the circumstances leading to the Germanwings crash, it also left many questions unanswered. There are so many questions: why did one pilot leave the cockpit? Why wouldn’t the other pilot open the door? The descent from 38,000 feet in about 10 minutes is alarming, but gradual enough to suggest that the Airbus had not been damaged drastically and at no point during the descent was there any communication to air traffic controllers or any other sign of emergency for that matter. The plane was traveling with enough speed that it was all but destroyed, killing all 144 passengers and crew of six, leaving very few clues. At the crash site, workers found the casing of the plane’s other black box (flight data recorder), but the memory card had been thrown loose or destroyed by the impact. A French official involved in the investigation said that the lack of communication from the pilots during the plane’s descent was disturbing, and that the possibility that their silence was deliberate could not be ruled out. He also stated, “So far, we don’t have any evidence that points clearly to a technical explanation, so we have to consider the possibility of deliberate human responsibility.”
I do not understand just how many airplane disasters it is going to take before the airline industry transmits flight data electronically, rather than storing it in a little black box that gets destroyed with the plane itself. There are too many casualties to date between airplane crashes or airplanes ‘disappearing’ – how does an airplane DISAPPEAR?! The possibility that we may never learn what caused this tragedy is unsettling.