Germanwings plane crash: Airbus A320 underwent maintenance work day before tragedy

Lufthansa said there was no safety issue and the aircraft was cleared to fly

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The Independent Online

Germanwings has insisted that the Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps yesterday was fit for service after reports it had to be repaired the day before the tragedy.

A British father, mother and baby from Manchester and 16 German teenagers from the same school were among the 150 victims on board.

As investigators continue to analyse data from one of the aircraft’s black boxes, recovered from the crash site yesterday, speculation continues over possible causes for the disaster.

A spokesperson for Lufthansa confirmed that maintenance work had to be carried out on a flap covering the landing gear on Monday but insisted the fated aircraft was cleared for service.

Wolfgang Reinert said: “The plane was not grounded. The pilots had reported a whistling noise involving a flap. There was no safety issue. It concerned noise.”

The Airbus was fixed by 10am, exactly 24 hours before it took off on its final flight, cleared for service and sent on its way after a safety check confirming to all regulations.

Named “Mannheim” after the German city, the plane was 24 years old and had its first flight on 29 November 1990.

Lufthansa took it into service in 1991 and sold it to its subsidiary Germanwings in 2014. It had undergone a full statutory inspection in summer 2013.

The plane had completed 58,313 flight hours, mainly on short continental flights, and the captain yesterday had 10 years of experience with Lufthansa and Germanwings, and more than 6,000 hours of flying Airbus models.

It is believed to have crashed at around 10.53am (9.53am GMT) yesterday at an altitude of around 6,000ft in the French Alps.

The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, emphasised that “budget” European airlines never skimp on safety.

Staff members of Germanwings and Lufthansa hold a candlelight vigil outside the headquarters of Germanwings in Cologne

“Rigorous safety standards are imposed equally across all airlines,” he wrote. “Germanwings has exactly the same high standards as its parent, Lufthansa, whose safety record is formidable.

“A 24-year-old aircraft, as the doomed jet was, should not be regarded in the same way as a 24-year-old car might be.

“Every passenger plane goes through rigorous, regular checks. Everything, from the fabric of the aircraft to the avionics that control its flight, is kept in prime condition.”

The A320 plane family has a good safety record, with just 0.14 fatal accidents per million take-offs, according to a Boeing safety analysis.

Additional reporting by agencies