It has been very uncomfortable following the news this week about the catastrophic ending to the Germans Wings flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf. The unfolding story being revealed by the cockpit voice recorder shocks us to the extent that it goes beyond what we think of as possible in the range of behaviours we expect from one human being, like us, to others.
As I write this I wait to hear what evidence the German Police have found in First Officer Andreas Lubitz’s homes. There are reports of a recent disappointment in love and a period of absence from flight training due to depression as if this explains his grotesque decision to take his own life and that of 150 others in an act of extreme nihilism; showing an absence of regard for his life and that of all of his fellow crew and passengers.
This cannot be regarded as the action of a broken hearted, depressed man. There are broken hearted and depressed people all around us and we are safe from murder at their hands. No, there is something else at play here just as there was in Columbine High School, Sandy Hook, Dunblane and the Norwegian island of Utoya.
Today we learn that many American and European airlines were already operating the policy of having two crew members on the flight deck at all times to prevent such rogue actions in the cockpit. Today, in Britain, they are joined by easyJet and Virgin, Thomas Cook and Monarch and others around the world.
These will be difficult days for Lufthansa, owner of German Wings and one of the worlds most reliable and trusted carriers, as they follow the procedures that have made air passenger transport the safest form of travel that it is per passenger carried, per mile travelled and per flight made. Their recruitment, training and on-going certification procedures will be being examined in detail for what they can learn that led to a rogue pilot having sole control of the cockpit and the lives of 150 people. The result of this work will lead to the urgent implementation of procedures that will very significantly reduce the risk of any such incident occurring again in any regulated passenger aircraft. Continue reading