Archive | March 24, 2015
A passenger plane has crashed in France, with all 150 people on board thought to have died.
The Airbus A320, operated by Lufthansa’s Germanwings budget airline, came down in the southern French Alps between Barcelonnette and Digne.
Flight 4U 9525 sent out a distress signal at 10.47am (9.47am UK time) after finding itself in an “abnormal situation” on its route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf.
A picture of the area where the plane crashed from a rescue helicopter
France’s President Francois Hollande said there were likely to be “no survivors” and that he expected a significant number of German casualties.
“It’s a tragedy on our soil,” he said.
“The conditions of the accident, which have not yet been clarified, lead us to think there are no survivors.”
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, said 45 of those on board are thought to be Spanish.
French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said debris from the crash had been found at an altitude of 2,000 metres.
He added that he expected “an extremely long and extremely difficult” search and rescue operation because of the area’s remoteness.
Emergency workers were not expected to reach the scene for several hours.
Eric Ciotti, the head of the regional council, said search-and-rescue teams were on the way to the crash site at Meolans-Revels.
Flight-tracking data indicated the aircraft plummeted from 40,000ft to 6,200ft in the space of 10 minutes before it crashed.
Aviation journalist Anthony Davis said: “The log suggests it went straight down at a significant rate, up to 5,000 feet per minute at one point, which suggests it happened in a matter of seconds.
“It is unlikely the passengers on board would have known anything about this. As far as I am aware that the pilots did not send a typical distress call, a squawk of 770.
“They simply said emergency, emergency.”
A total of 144 passengers, two pilots and four cabin crew were on board the 24-year-old plane.
Weather conditions were calm at the time the plane came down and the country’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the causes of the crash were not yet known.
He said he had activated the ministerial crisis cell to help coordinate the aftermath of the crash. He added that he had sent Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to the site.
Lufthansa wrote on its Twitter page: “We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew on 4U 9525.
“If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors.”
German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a tweet: “Our thoughts are with those who have to go through the worry that their relatives may be among the victims.”
Captain Mike Vivian, former Head of Flight Operations at the Civil Aviation Authority, told Sky News the A320 had a relatively good safety record.
“Germanwings is a very competent company given it is owned by the main German flag-carrier and it flies basically short-haul routes,” he said.
“The Airbus A320 is a successful aeroplane and has been around for over 20 years.
“It surprises me, that this aircraft flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, would have been at low altitude because nobody goes low in the Alps unless you are landing at Zurich or Geneva.
“So something catastrophic as either taken place or there has been a major emergency. If it was the second it would probably have been preceded or consistent with a radio call.”
Courtesy of Sky News