24 March 2015; Germanwings A320-200; D-AIPX; flight 4U9525; near Barcelonnette, France: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Barcelona, Spain to Düsseldorf, Germany. About a half hour after takeoff, while at a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet, the aircraft began losing altitude, and crashed about ten minutes later. The investigative authorities suspect that the first officer deliberately crashed the aircraft. All six crew members and 144 passengers were killed.
A review of the cockpit voice recorder made the authorities suspect that the first officer locked the cockpit door while the captain was outside of the cockpit. The online flight tracking service FlightRadar24 reported than an analysis of their data showed that the autopilot was set to the minimum altitude of 100 feet, which is well below the ground level where the crash took place.
These recent revelations of the suspected cause of the Germanwings crash highlight the reality that despite all of the changes that the airline industry has made since 9/11 to prevent passengers or other outsiders from threatening aircraft, there is still a risk that crew members have the opportunity and the ability to deliberately crash airliners.
At least seven events since 1980
Since 1980, there have been at least seven occasions where an airline pilot is suspected to have deliberately crashed an airliner. One one occasion in 1994, a FedEx DC10 crew had to fight off an off duty pilot who had intended to crash the aircraft, and were barely able to survive the attack. For more details on these eight events, please visit http://t.co/XbqXIThVjB