Germanwings crash: Descent may have been 'deliberate, suicidal choice' by pilot, claims experts

French aviation experts say a conscious decision must have been made to place the aircraft on a gentle downward trajectory

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The Independent Online

The descent to destruction of the Germanwings Airbus may have been a deliberate, suicidal choice by the pilot who remained in the cockpit, French aviation experts believe.

They said  that a conscious decision must have been made by the remaining pilot to put the Barcelona-Dusseldorf flight onto a downward 11-minute descent until it collided with a mountain in the French Alps.

Following the revelation that one of the two pilots was locked out of the cockpit , the experts told the French news agency AFP that events pointed to either the suicide or sudden illness of the remaining pilot.

Illness was very unlikely, they said, because a conscious decision must have been made to place the aircraft on a gentle downward trajectory.

"A downward trajectory of this kind can only be the result of a voluntary action by the crew," an expert told AFP.

"Flying straight into the mountains makes no sense," the expert said. "It is either an abnormal action by the crew, while perfectly aware of what they are doing, or an inability to react for some reason."

AFP quoted investigation sources in France as confirming the broad outline of the New York Times revelation that one of the two pilots appeared to have been locked out of the cockpit.

The  sound recording in the black bx recovered on Tuesday is well-preserved, the sources told AFP. "At the beginning of the flight you can hear the crew talking normally. Then you hear the noise of one of the seats being pushed back and a door opening and closing. There is no more conversation from that moment until the crash."

Alarms are heard to sound as the aircraft approaches the ground.

Other French aviation experts also backed the suicide theory. They pointed out that the pilot who remained at the controls must have deliberately locked his co-pilot out of the cockpit.

The pilot who left the cockpit would have had an entry code to allow him to return, the experts told Le Figaro. Only by pushing a "deny" button could the other pilot have kept him away from the controls.

Nicolas Redier, an experienced French pilot, said: "When you tap in the re-entry code, the pilot at the controls has 30 seconds to block the opening of the door by pushing the deny button." If he had been taken ill, the door would have opened automatically, he said. If the other pilot had forgotten the code, another member of crew should have possessed a master code."

An Air France pilot, also speaking to Le Figaro, advanced another possible explanation: "The captain leaves the cockpit to go the toilet. At that moment, the aircraft suffers a violent loss of cabin pressure which knocks out the pilot at the controls and damages and jams the cockpit entry door."

This explanation fails to explain, however, how the aircraft was placed into a gentle, controlled, downward trajectory, losing around 2,000 feet a minute until it struck the sheer slope of a mountain.

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