Category Archives: incomplete investigations

How aware were the passengers on Germanwings flight 4U9525 of the impending crash?

Our reaction to the most recent press reports about the Essen lawsuit for higher pain and suffering compensation

Whether the letters from Lufthansa were a statement to the Essen district court or to the plaintiff survivors eludes our knowledge. The fact is that on 12 and 13 August 2019 there were extensive press releases by the leading media on this topic. The letter from Lufthansa suggests that the passengers were not aware of the eventual crash and thus would not have experienced any fear of dying. Instead, they claim that the passengers would have experienced the event as a normal descent.

Would Lufthansa have us believe that during the captain’s alleged absence from the cockpit he would have interpreted such a descent in same way? After all, this absence took five minutes until the first six knocking sounds recorded by the cockpit voice recorder (from 09.30 to 09.35, according to the BEA report).

It is not proven and so is only assumed that the captain had gone the toilet, and it is also not proven that it was he who knocked on the cockpit door (it might well have been a flight attendant), since there are no video recordings from in front of the cockpit door.

Or maybe?

Another scenario: The Germanwings aircraft had no visual barrier (i.e., a curtain) blocking the view of the area immediately in front of the cockpit door. Thus, passengers would have easily witnessed what was occurring at the cockpit door. Then one would suspect that at least some passengers would have made pictures or videos of the events with mobile phones or cameras. In this case, there would be documented evidence of what was happening in the aircraft and, combined with the descent, passengers would likely have guessed and feared an impending crash and their deaths.

According to the information provided by victims’ lawyers, these devices were returned to the relatives with all images deleted, thus removing possibly critical evidence …

Now, in the autumn of 2019, a hearing will be held before the district court of Essen concerning the claims for compensation of the survivors. The payment amount should be based on the suffering of the passengers in the last few minutes before the fatal crash of the Germanwings aircraft.

In order to reach a fair judgment, the judges of the district court of Essen would actually have to demand and review the cockpit voice recorder as necessary evidence, but even more vital would be the images and video recordings from the mobile devices and cameras, provided they are available from the investigating authorities.

Pain and suffering compensation – an elastic term. Does money cure pain at all?

What role does the amount play?…

L.U.

 

further posts:

With regard to the Frontal 21 television report on 18 June 2019

Comprehensive investigations of the crash cause?

How quickly could the cause of the crash truly be determined?

On March 24 2015 a 24-year-old Germanwings Airbus A320-200, registration D-AIPX, crashed in the French Alps during the scheduled flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf with 150 people on board. The “official” time data places the crash at 10:41. All 150 people were killed and the plane was completely destroyed.

Action forces from various French authorities and organisations were brought to the crash site the same day and began recovering human remains and searching for the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR). In the early evening of March 24 2015 the cockpit voice recorder was found and recovered. The following day, March 25, the cockpit voice recorder was transported to Paris for evaluation and was downloaded and replayed for the first time. In contrast, the flight data recorder was only found nine days after the crash, on April 2, and was evaluated over the subsequent weeks. Up to this point these were the officially communicated facts.

Aircraft accident investigations are an extremely complex process and meticulously investigated for all possible causes of crashes. For this purpose, expert teams extensively and intensively examine the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, among many other factors. Through a process of elimination the probable cause is eventually identified, but then verified with further focussed investigations. Only then will the cause of the crash be communicated by the investigating authority. Experience with all previous civil aviation crashes tells us that this process requires several months, if not years.

Two days after the crash, on March 26, after only a necessarily superficial evaluation of the cockpit voice recorder and no flight data recorder, the French prosecutor, Brice Robin, announced that he assumed that Andreas Lubitz had started a controlled descent about two minutes after reaching the cruising altitude and had caused the plane to crash.The captain, according to investigators’ claims, had previously left the cockpit. Therefore, Robin concluded, it is most likely that Lubitz intentionally flown the plane into the mountain to destroy it. This statement was made after a first superficial evaluation of the voice recorder and withoutthe flight data recorder, which should have precluded such a conclusion.

Question: Why would Robin do this?

In the following months, further investigations were carried out in France and Germany. In retrospect, however, the conclusions arrived at by these investigations appear to be biased in favour of the initial pronouncement and were supported by added assertions.

The question remains unanswered: Were all possible crash scenarios exhaustively examined and could alternative causes really be 100% excluded?

L. U.

 

further posts:

The commercial exploitation of human suffering

Current developments – Renewed lawsuit by family’s lawyer

Giemulla provides the German Press Agency (dpa) with “news” about an expanded lawsuit in which he argues with false facts

So it starts again! The driving force is once again the family lawyer Giemulla. Under the pressure of the statute of limitations, this reworked lawsuit has recently been filed. This information submitted to dpa would ensure a wide distribution in the media landscape. Is this the way to put to rest this tragic story? Why would one do something like this, and what does one want to achieve?

Perhaps one wants to exert further pressure on Lufthansa in order to collect even greater compensation payments. One hopes for a bombshell story in the media which would increase this pressure on the airline, which may then be more willing to pay so that its name can again disappear from the negative headlines.

From the words of attorney Giemulla one can see that it is a lawsuit brought by 200 relatives of 49 victims and demands more than double what was originally paid by Lufthansa. 200 relatives of 49 victims is an average of four relatives per victim! He argues that the suit is not only about money, but is also about clarification about where the airline failed. But it is difficult to believe that. Incidentally, the fact that the general public shares this disbelief is confirmed by the articles’ comments sections. Furthermore, the articles and comments were published only by regional newspapers or broadcasters – not by the leading media.

So far, we have always been very reserved in our choice of words, but today we would like to make it clear: Attorney Giemulla sticks to his lies and changes his narrative at the expense of our son. It is simply not true that Andreas was able to finish his flight training only with a special permit. (About this we have already written in detail in our article of September 2017, which can be read in the archive.)

Why would a lawyer employ such methods? Or in other words, is it Giemulla’s intention to constantly renew and sustain the image of the mentally ill copilot and, if so, why, and on whose behalf and in whose interest? Of course, he is also under pressure, because another attorney obtained larger payments for his clients on the condition that the charges against the Lufthansa Group were dropped.

https://www.stern.de/panorama/klageerweiterung-germanwings-absturz–angehoerige-wollen-mehr-schmerzensgeld-8520070.html

According to the cited STERN article: “Giemulla demands an inspection of the flight school records. He also wants to personally interview witnesses in the US in order to prove negligence. The overall concern of the bereaved was in addition to the monetary compensation, and that this would come through clarification. “At what point in the global corporation did the mentally ill copilot slip through the control network?” the lawyer asked”.

With this statement Giemulla once again claims, as he did in 2017, that our son belongs to the permanently mentally ill. This is absolutely contrary to all the investigation results. The following is from the closing statement of the Düsseldorf prosecutor, Kumpa:

“On the one hand, according to the results of the investigation, there are no indications that Andreas Lubitz was mentally ill when he was hired as a flight attendant and later as a pilot at Germanwings.”

And further it is stated:

Later he added: “None of the treating physicians in 2014/2015 — be they psychiatric specialists or other doctors — diagnosed depression with Andreas Lubitz at that time. In addition, no physician or therapist detected suicidal thoughts or were any reported by the patient. There was also no evidence of atypical aggressive behavior.”

And then there is the question: In the course of his work as a lawyer, is Giemulla entitled to demand access to files from the flight school or to hear witnesses? Is not that the job of prosecutors or judges? And this is quite apart from the fact that witness hearings were already carried out by the US authorities and are part of the investigation file. Should he be entitled to do so? If so, then he will hear nothing negative or distressing from anybody in the US. Regarding this we are absolutely confident, as no abnormalities or omissions would be found. The time in Arizona is the highlight of the training for all Lufthansa pilots. That’s what it was for our son. And Andreas was the first to finish this part of his training and with good results, without any special permission.

Provided that Giemulla performed a thorough study of the files, he would have to be aware of these facts, but this is seriously doubtful in view of his false claims.

If the public finally understood that the story of “the mentally ill copilot” was never true, then we would be left without a plausible explanation.

And then victims, relatives, lawyers, the investigating authorities, the public, etc., would begin asking questions about the real cause of the crash and must then consider alternative scenarios.

L.U.

Why were the voice recordings of the cockpit voice recorder not clearly assigned?

The assignment of the captain’s and copilot’s voices was purely speculative

As in every Airbus A320, various microphones were installed in the cockpit of the crashed Germanwings plane and these recorded the audible activity on the cockpit voice recorder (CVR). Each microphone is assigned to a separate track on the CVR with a recording time of 30 minutes.

The various microphones record the verbal communication of the pilots in addition to any kind of noise in the cockpit. These sounds include, for example, alarms in the cockpit, adjustments to the control knobs (as far as they are acoustically perceptible), repositioning of the pilots’ seats, the closing and opening of the cockpit door, etc.

Even with acoustic recording of the opening and closing the cockpit door, it cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that someone indeed exits or enters. This would only be possible with video recordings, which do not exist.

On page HA 05111 of the French Investigative File (German translation) the following assignment of the microphones and recorded tracks were documented during the playback of the CVR on March 26, 2015 by gendarmes of the Air Traffic Gendarmerie SRTA Paris-Charles-De-Gaulle: “Tracks 1 and 2 correspond to the headsets of the captain and the copilot.” From this it can be concluded that track 1 is assigned to the captain and track 2 to the copilot.

However, later on page HA 05129 of the same investigation file, transcriptions of the CVR two days later on 28 March 2015 by gendarmes, four BEA engineers and a person of German descent at the Air Traffic Gendarmerie SRTA Paris-Charles-De-Gaulle, indicate that the microphones and thus the track assignments were the other way around. This is documented as follows:

Track 1: Copilot’s headset

Track 2: Captain’s headset

To prove beyond doubt and to ensure that the copilot, Andreas Lubitz, and the captain, Patrick Sondenheimer, were actually present in the cockpit during the last 30 minutes, a voice identification should have been carried out. For this, one would have a close relative (for example the co-pilot’s parents and the captain’s wife) listen to the CVR playback.

The reality was different: According to HA 05127, at the CVR listening session on 28 March 2015 at the Air Traffic Police SRTA Paris-Charles-De-Gaulle the following conclusion was reached: “As some tracks are difficult to understand, the session is interrupted to clarify the relevant voice excerpts. Due to the facts collected in these listening sessions, we can assume that the powerful voice captured by the various tracks is that of the flight captain.”

This is confirmed in a further session by gendarmes of the Aviation Gendarmerie SRTA Paris-Charles-De-Gaulle on 28 May 2015. On page HA 05266 of the French investigation file the following is documented: “We determine that the strong voice emanating from the various tracks is that of the captain, Mr. Sondenheimer, and Mr. Lubitz is the weak voice.”

From the point of view of Andreas Lubitz’s parents the following is noted:

  1. Andreas Lubitz had a normal male voice. The statement that he had a weak voice is purely speculative and unproven.
  2. Andreas Lubitz’s parents have applied to various institutions to listen personally to the cockpit voice recorder and thus to contribute to a voice identification. Specifically, these institutions were:
  • German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation
  • the Dusseldorf public prosecutor
  • BEA (Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile) in France

All these requests were rejected with absurd and unreasonable explanations.

In response to a Lubitz family request, the Dusseldorf prosecutor informed them that neither he nor the BFU were ever in possession of the original cockpit voice records or a copy. The German investigation authorities were never provided with this important document of the accident investigation…

L.U.

 

further article:

Why were questionable, technically impossible operating parameters of the crashed Germanwings aircraft not examined?

Why were questionable, technically impossible operating parameters of the crashed Germanwings aircraft not examined?

Simultaneously set flight modes, which exclude each other; plus a newly implemented procedure to check the emergency code function of the cockpit door

Relevant data from an aircraft are stored on the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR). The cockpit voice recorder documents pilot voice communications as well as all cockpit sounds. The flight data recorder stores physical data, such as speed, altitude, etc., and  also pilot settings on the autopilot control panel FCU (Flight Control Unit).

The recorders from the crashed Germanwings aircraft were found on separate days and the stored data retrieved. Graphical representations of the parameters taken from the flight data recorder are documented in the French investigation file. Aviation experts and pilots have examined these graphs and analysed them for plausibility. There are striking anomalies regarding different parameters. For example, see the following excerpt from the French investigation file:

Objektiver_Befund_franz_Orginal_Band_03_Blatt 803-1202 (HA 00924)

The graphs show the two automatic flight modes DES (Managed Descent) and OPDES (Open Descent). It can be seen that during the descent the two automatic flight modes DES (upper graph) and OPDES (lower graph) were simultaneously active.

As several Airbus A320 pilots have independently confirmed, having both settings concurrently active is technically impossible. For the Open Decent (OPDES) the altitude adjustment knob must be pulled out. For the Managed Decent setting, the same altitude knob must be pressed in. And when it is pushed in, the other mode is automatically disabled. Thus, it is completely impossible that both setting modes could have been active at the same time.

Another example of an anomaly can be found in the recording of the modes CLB (Managed Climb) and OPCLB (Open Climbs). See the following excerpt from the French investigation file:

Objektiver_Befund_franz_Orginal_Band_03_Blatt 803-1202 (HA 00924)

According to the graph, these two were also simultaneously active in the period from approx. 09:19 to 09:24. This is, again, techinically impossible.

Open Climb means that the engines are running at maximum thrust for the climb and the piot has selected the speed. In the Managed Climb mode the aircraft follows a speed and altitude profile which was previously stored in the Flight Management System. Open Climb is instigated by pulling out the altitude knob and Managed Climb by pressing in the altitude knob.

To repeat, when the altitude knob is pressed in the other mode is automatically disabled. And again, it is technically impossible that both mode settings could have been active at the same time. It should be noted that shortly after takeoff (see graph) at approximately 09:02 only the Managed Climb function was recorded as activated, and not both modes simultaneously.

But there is also an example where Airbus and Lufthansa became active only after the Germanwings crash and its consequences: The verification of the keypad function for accessing the cockpit.

Since the Germanwings crash, the keypad of the cockpit door and the proper function of the cockpit door locking system must be checked by the pilot once daily by entering the emergency code. Shortly after the aircraft accident there were indications from Germanwings insiders that the keypad of the Germanwings crashed aircraft had already malfunctioned previously in an attempt to open the unintentionally closed cockpit door on the ground by entering the emergency code. The door would not open after entering the code and entering the cockpit was only possible with the aid of Lufthansa technicians.

Mr van Beveren already personally reported this incident to the BEA on 28.03.2015, and also  mentioned it in a telephone conversation with BEA spokeswoman Martine Del Bono. At the time he was acting as an independent aviation journalist to the BEA investigation authority. However, there followed no reaction or initiation of an investigation (see link, page 61).

https://andreas-lubitz.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Expert-Report-on-the-Crash-of-Germanwings-Flight-4U9525.pdf

Previously, the proper functioning of the emergency code was checked procedurally by Lufthansa technicians only every 12,000 flight hours.

From the Germanwings cockpit voice and sound recordings it is not apparent that the captain entered the emergency code. This prompts the legitimate question of, why not?

Furthermore, it has not been recorded or documented that the cockpit door was locked since the take-off in Barcelona until the collision in the mountains. See also article:

The deliberate lockout of the captain from the cockpit – The investigation file itself shows that this was not the case

Finally, the question persists as to why the questionable operating conditions of the crashed Germanwings aircraft have not been sufficiently investigated and clarified to definitively rule out that these circumstances could have contributed to the accident.

L.U.

 

further article:

The deliberate lockout of the captain from the cockpit

The deliberate lockout of the captain from the cockpit

The investigation file itself shows that this was not the case

Various press reports have claimed that there was an intentional lockout. This has led to the assumption that immediately after the captain left the cockpit Andreas locked the door. Over and over again pictures of the cockpit door locking system switch were commented on together with pictures of the UNLOCK-NORM-LOCK cockpit panel. Media websites displayed A320 locking system animations, always with the claim that Andreas had set the switch to «LOCK».

According to the BEA final report (see page 12) on the accident of the Germanwings plane, the cockpit door was opened at 09:30:24 and closed again three seconds later. These three seconds are when the captain supposedly exited the cockpit. This agrees with the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder protocol. See this following excerpt from the investigation file:

Objective findings German translation volume_03_page HA 05221:

Approximately four minutes later, at 09:34:31, a ringtone was recorded for one second. This sound indicates that someone outside the cockpit is requesting access. This is also evident from the BEA final report on page 13 and is consistent with the cockpit voice recorder transcript recordings (see excerpt below from the investigation file).

Objective findings German translation volume_03_page HA 05222:

However, the recording of the ringtone access request proves that Andreas had not deliberately locked the cockpit door. This is because if he had deliberately set the toggle switch to the LOCK position the entire cockpit door electronics, including the keypad and audible ringtones, would automatically have been deactivated for a period of 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the airline. Thus, no ringtone would have sounded and no ringtone could have been recorded. However, the fact that the ringtone was recorded is clear from the BEA final report. This clearly refutes the claim that by deliberately locking the cockpit door Andreas prevented the captain from entering!

Finally, reference should be made to finding no. 5 in the report on the crash of Germanwings Flight 4U9525 by Mr van Beveren:

https://andreas-lubitz.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Gutachten-zum-Germanwings-Absturz-4U9525-S-61-120.pdf

The assumption stated in the report and also by the public prosecutor, Brice Robin, on 26.03.2015 that Andreas Lubitz did »deliberately prevent the opening of the door« in order to deny access to the captain cannot be proven and is therefore purely speculative and was, in regards to the public statement, hastily stated by the prosecutor, Brice Robin.

Therefore, this assumption mentioned by Brice Robin is not based on any facts or evidence in the report.

L.U.

further article:

The deletion of potentially important evidence

The deletion of potentially important evidence

Questions about the existence of photos / videos that do not fit the official crash scenario and changed crash time

According to the Germanwings investigation file, many mobile phones, of various makes, were found at the crash site. Some of them were undamaged. We all use mobile phones not only to make phone calls and send text messages, but also to take photos or create videos.

One can assume that on the salvaged mobile phones crash victims’ photos and videos of various kinds were stored. It is quite likely that passengers captured in photos or videos the last few minutes aboard the Germanwings plane. Especially in the first rows of seats, e.g. in the immediate vicinity of the cockpit door, the activities of the captain and the cabin crew would have been noticed by passengers, assuming they were conscious. Such photos and videos would provide critical proof in support of the official crash theory and would certainly have been presented in the investigation file. But these photos / videos are not available.

Personal items from the crash site which could be clearly identified immediately were soon handed over to the relatives. Included were several mobile phones. However, a representative for victims’ families from Spain, Paraguay and the United Kingdom, Narcis Motjé, publicly complained that SIM cards, possibly containing information on the course of events leading up to the crash, had been removed before the mobile phones were returned to the families.

See news article:

http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/germanwings-absturzopfer-verklagen-fluggesellschaft-a-1140692.html
(first read on 30.03.2017)

Victims’ lawyers representing other families also objected in a similar way, namely that photos and videos on the returned mobile phones had been deleted. Under these circumstances one must ask oneself, why had this been done? Did the Mirage fighter play a very different role? What could images or videos of a fighter aircraft, taken by Germanwings passengers, ultimately reveal? According to the investigation file (see page HA 04758) a Mirage fighter plane was indeed on the way. See the following excerpt from the file:

After the Centre National des Operations Aerienne de Lyon (CNOA) had been activated by Aix Air Traffic Control and the operational alert was triggered, a Mirage 2000, based in Orange, launched a search and rescue mission. When it arrived in the area a police helicopter was already present.

The Mirage reached the area, but only after the plane had already crashed…  According to the official BEA Final Report, the Germanwings plane crashed at 09:41:06 (UTC) in the French Alps. (In March, Central European Time is one hour later than UTC.) The impact of the Germanwings plane was thus given as 10:41:06 local time. However, in the early media reports the crash time was reported as 10:53 am – 12 minutes later than what was recorded in the BEA Final Report. At 10:53 (!) on March 26, 2015, a minute of silence was held in North Rhine-Westphalia during which people remembered the victims of the catastrophe. At the same time, bells tolled in our town; at Cologne-Bonn Airport hundreds of Germanwings employees gathered at headquarters; and in Berlin the Federal Cabinet participated in this minute of silence. 10:53 was the moment when the radio transmission from the Germanwings’s plane was silenced by the impact.

See news article:

https://www.derwesten.de/thema/germanwings-absturz/nrw-haelt-inne-so-lief-die-schweigeminute-um-10-53-uhr-id10501602.html
(first read on 16.04.2015)

It is incomprehensible why, in retrospect, the crash time was brought forward from 10:53 to 10:41, and no one has asked why nor has anyone publically explained. Clearly, these facts raise serious questions: It is officially claimed that by 10:41 the Mirage fighter jet was unable to intercept the Germanwings plane, but it could have – 12 minutes later…

L. U.

further article:

Airworthiness Review Certificate – the ignored document