German Wings 4U9525: Was cockpit security just too secure?

UPDATE:

A French prosecutor has now said that the pilot in the cockpit disabled the code (usually 7 digits) which would have allowed the pilot outside to override the door lock and come in, and that the plane was crashed deliberately!


The New York Times and AFP are reporting that the cockpit recordings show:

  • Normal conversation between the pilots initially
  • sound of a chair being pushed back and one pilot leaving the cockpit (toilet visit perhaps?)
  • knocking and then pounding on the door as he tried to get back in
  • no response from the pilot left inside

And that suggests that maybe, and as a very unhappy coincidence, the pilot left inside fell ill or was otherwise incapacitated while his colleague was outside.

Which would suggest that security arrangements where the cockpit door can only be opened from the inside have not been entirely thought through. The security prevents anyone rescuing or taking over from a lone incapacitated pilot locked inside the cockpit.

NYTimes:

A senior military official involved in the investigation described “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots during the early part of the flight from Barcelona, Spain, to Düsseldorf, Germany. Then the audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer.”

He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.” ……..

…….. The data from the voice recorder seems only to deepen the mystery surrounding the crash and provides no indication of the condition or activity of the pilot who remained in the cockpit. The descent from 38,000 feet over about 10 minutes was alarming but still gradual enough to indicate that the twin-engine Airbus A320 had not been damaged catastrophically. At no point during the descent was there any communication from the cockpit to air traffic controllers or any other signal of an emergency.

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