This blog post was written hours before it was revealed that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz appeared to want to 'destroy the plane': prosecutor, and is therefore obsolete (but my basic guess about the "suicidal act" was right)
My half-sister has been afraid of flying for many years. For two days, there is some evidence that she had a point.
The crash of Germanwings 9525 occurred 100 kilometers Northwest of Nice, and she's been living in Nice for many years. And yes, she has flown with Germanwings – a subsidiary of Lufthansa – in the past.
An audio recording told us that one of the pilots was locked out – probably when he needed to use the restroom. The other pilot didn't allow him to return to the cockpit when the Airbus was converging towards the rocks in the Alps.
Before 9/11, the door of the cockpit was pretty much open to everyone who gets physically close. After 9/11, the cockpits began to be "protected" against intruders. Unfortunately, the tragedy of Germanwings 9525 indicates that this "improvement of safety" has actually made things worse, not better.
Now, the main remaining question is why the remaining pilot in the cockpit didn't do his job, and why he didn't allow the other pilot to get in.
There are two obvious major hypotheses or classes of hypotheses:
- This pilot suffered from a health problem, and was either unconscious or sleeping at the time
- He was conscious and awake and he led the airplane towards the doom intentionally
The captain had the "pretty much minimal" number of hours on service that are compatible with the title; the other pilot was a new 2013 alumnus with a very small number of hours.
There are various reasons why I tend to think that the kamikaze explanation could be more likely. First, we rarely see or hear that pilots collapse or become unconscious during the flight. The probability that this event occurs exactly when the other pilot is in the restroom – which is perhaps 1% of the time – is therefore smaller by 2 additional orders of magnitude.
Second, we remember three airplanes on 9/11 that were liquidated (along with some terrestrial targets) by suicidal attackers on the board. Of course, on 9/11, the executioners were not pilots. I don't know whether it's possible for a Germanwings pilot to be a Muslim – and a hidden Muslim terrorist – but due to multi-culti and PC, I do tend to think that the answer is Yes.
After all, there were Turkish (and probably Muslim) passengers among the victims, too. (This is not relevant for this event; the pilots were ethnic Germans, see the comments.)
Believe me, I don't want to make the lives of the Muslims less fulfilling or prestigious and I have nothing against them as human beings. But due to similar threats that are vastly greater if the pilots are Muslims, I simply think that the Western airlines should not hire Muslims as pilots. In Czech, we use the idiom "to make the billy goat a gardener". If you don't understand, it is supposed to be "obviously silly" to do such things because the billy goat is more likely to eat, and not nurture, the plants. To make the Muslim a pilot could be a similar thing, although this idiom isn't widespread yet.
The fact that the locked cockpit was a necessary condition for the disaster to take place – at least in this way – should also teach us a lesson. Way too often, people want to "improve the safety" by introducing some policies that make things more complicated, harder, slower, more annoying, or more costly and they assume that it's self-evident that the safety must be improved if we suffer through this extra layer or inconvenience and regulation. This assumption is a modern "regulatory" counterpart of the old idea that scapegoats donated to gods (divine bribes of a sort) will make our lives better in the future.
However, it is simply not the case in general – and both the old religions and the universally pro-regulation, left-wing ideologies are lethally flawed for the same reason. Regulation may make things worse. It may create extra discomfort and it may reduce the safety, too. If the cockpit is locked, this cockpit is more protected against the bad guys. But you know, it is more "protected" against the good guys, too. The latter fact is often overlooked – even though the number of "good guys" who sometimes need to enter the cockpit is arguably greater than the number of "bad guys"!
Couldn't the pilots be able to open the cockpit with a password or some secret motion?
So I am not claiming that there's solid evidence that the tragedy was a murder-suicide, or even a suicidal Islamic attack, but I think it is clearly premature to eliminate this possibility or possibilities.
My condolences to the victims' friends and families.