Germanwings A320 crashes in French Alps

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A Germanwings A320 from Barcelona to Dusseldorf has crashed in the French Alps. Apparently no survivors have been found and the plane shattered into pieces on impact.

144 passengers and 6 crew members are assumed to have died in the crash.

Air travel is usually a safe endeavor. Our sincere condolences and thoughts are with the family members of the passengers and crew of the doomed flight.

There is lots of speculation about the plane’s steep but seemingly controlled descent in the last 15 minutes of flight. However, the plane never changed course and headed (at a lower altitude) towards the mountainous region. At the time of the descent from 38,000 feet, it would have been much easier to make an emergency landing in Nice.

Just a couple of days ago, a report surfaced about another Airbus that suffered from two faulty angle of attack sensors. The plane’s computer believed it to be in a stall, although the plane was flying level.

The autopilot took the plane into a steep descent from flight level as an ’emergency measure’. But no such emergency situation was taking place. The pilots were able to override the system, but according to the report this was only because of their ‘advanced system knowledge’.

The crash today could very well have been caused by a similar pattern – a plane that thinks it is in a stall and descends erroneously. This would explain the descent, but not the lack of more than one distress signal and the failure to seek a flight path closer to sea level (where the emergency started). The pilots would have had 10-15 minutes to overcome the situation (or call for help) but apparently that didn’t happen.

Let’s hope this disaster will ensure air travel is safer in the future and that the lives lost are not lost for nothing.