Death by Pilot: Hopefully a Short Lived Phenomenon

There was a horrible tragedy this week that occurred in the French Alps.  A pilot on a Germanwings Airplane decided to end his life and the lives of 149 other passengers on the plane which he was flying.  Initial reports are that he deliberately locked the cockpit while the other pilot went for a bathroom break.  The descent on the plane was swift and rapid.  There were no shouts from the cockpit or distress signals sent.  The co-pilot is said to be frantically trying to reenter the area but was successfully locked out.

Andreas Lubitz had dreamed of becoming a pilot.  It was stated that he was in a gliding club prior to passing the rigorous testing required to pilot a plane.  Besides being a Doctor, this job literally requires passengers to trust their lives to human hands.  Authorities are now searching his apartment in Dusseldorf, Germany in an effort to discover any clues that could answer the question that many stunned observers want to ask: Why?  If this 27 year old man wanted to end his life why would he also end the lives of the other passengers on board.  His phone records and Internet searches will be subject to investigation.  He trained in Phoenix for his job.  Unbelievable.

All of the individuals on board the doomed flight had been anticipating a safe flight.  There were 16 high school students on the plane who had just completed a field trip to Spain.  There were two Americans on the plane.  A mother and daughter were both competent professionals who were enjoying each others company.  Emily Selke was a graduate of Drexel University and was a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma Sorority.  Her mother was an Executive for Booz Allen Hamilton.  There were German Opera singers and an Iranian commentator who had flown to Spain to attend a soccer game.  This man took a selfie before boarding the fatal flight.

There are always concerns about terrorism when something like this happens.  There still has been no sighting of Malaysia Flight 370.  This plane veered off course and will remain one of the great modern mysteries until it is discovered.  The families of the passengers of this plane are forever left to wonder what happened.  In December 2014, Air Asia flight 320 crashed into the sea.  There were no survivors from the 155 passengers and crew members.In July 2014 Air Algerie flight AH5017 crashed in the area of Gossi, Mali.  all 116 crew and passengers died in this flight.  In that same month, 283 passengers and crew on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 perished during an in flight breakup.  The world mourns the fate of these individuals.

There is not much that a human being can do when confronted with a sudden death situation like what happened with the Germanwings flight.  Ensure that one has the proper life insurance and that all loved ones know that they are special.  The process of trying to recover bodies or evidence is hampered by the remote site in the French Alps.  I applaud the grim task that the rescuers and investigators have to undertake over the next few weeks.  My sympathies are with the families of those affected by this tragedy.  The biggest task will be how to prevent something like this from happening in the future.  Mechanical failures can be avoided by pre-flight inspections.  Deliberate attempts to end the life of oneself and others are going to make many passengers wonder about the safety of flying.   

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