THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - March 29, 2015 - 10:00am

What chance did the passengers and crew of Germanwings 9525 have when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz decided to show up for work on Tuesday, March 25, 2015? It is becoming more evident, as the investigation continues, that Lubitz deliberately placed the Airbus A320 into a descent that would eventually crash into the French Alps, killing all on board. The recovery of the cockpit voice recorder revealed a chilling event. The pilot leaves the cockpit for a bathroom break, leaving Lubitz all alone. As the pilot returns, the cockpit door is locked, which isn't exactly unusual. Since 9/11, all cockpit doors are always locked, and entry may be granted by entering a code on a keypad, or if someone opens the door. But apparently most airliners have a "locked" feature where no one can enter the cockpit, even with the codes. This is apparently what Lubitz engaged when the pilot left the cockpit.

The pilot then starts banging on the door to no avail. Sensing something is seriously wrong, the pilot frantically screams and tries to break down the door. This continues until a gut-wrenching silence on the recorder plays on. During all that time, the co-pilot's breathing could be heard, which was eerily steady with no signs of distress. Hence the assumption that he deliberately locked the door and plunged the aircraft into the mountainside.  

Now, pieces of the puzzle that is Andreas Lubitz' life are being discovered. Apparently, Lubitz suspended his pilot training at Lufthansa for a time, because of some sort of illness. He then continued his training and was qualified in 2013. But there have been visits by Lubitz to a clinic for an unknown illness, as recent as seventeen days before the crash. A letter discovered in the trash at his home stated that he was not fit to work. Obviously, he hid all these from Lufthansa. Now, an ex-girlfriend remembers him saying that "one day, I am going to do something that will change the whole system, and everyone will know my name and remember." This is obviously a foreshadowing of his sinister plans that came to be last Tuesday. My goodness.

Air crashes always have a cause. And investigators search diligently for those causes, to find solutions, change designs or in this case, have new protocols. The European Aviation Safety Agency has immediately issued new guidelines, stating that there should be two persons in the cockpit at all times. Our own Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines should follow suit. In hindsight, as always, had there been two people in the cockpit, Lubitz would not have been able to lock the pilot out. Perhaps if the cockpit had its own lavatory, then pilots would not have to leave the cockpit at all. 

But the biggest eye-opener would be the psychiatric state of all pilots. In this case, Lubitz passed his medical and psychological tests in 2013 when he was hired by Lufthansa. But then anything could have happened between that time and the present, as it did. If a psychiatric examination was done on Lubitz by the company itself, then they would have seen the brewing problems. But Lubitz was consulting an outside clinic, which actually deemed him unfit for work. Perhaps a psychiatric exam on all pilots be done on a more frequent basis, if only to asses if anything is wrong. Perfectly healthy individuals can snap at any time. As proven by this tragedy, an active pilot not in a healthy frame of mind is unacceptable. Small details, such as that mentioned by the ex-girlfriend, may provide valuable warnings that could save lives.



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