Pilots Recognized Signs of Suicide In Germanwings Crash

Mar 26, 2015 at 9:16 AM ET

Even before a French prosecutor said that the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525 had crashed the plane deliberately, pilots in online forums were saying the available evidence pointed to a suicide flight.

“Travelling in excess of VMO in a A320 disconnects the AP and triggers the high speed protections which pitch the aircraft up,” a user named Capt Kremin wrote Thursday on PPRuNe, a pilot forum. “This aircraft did not pitch up. Which probably means it was being over-ridden by whomever was flying it.”

The prosecutor, Brice Robin, said co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 28, pressed a button that accelerated the Airbus A320’s descent while his pilot was in the bathroom. “The intention was to destroy the plane,” Robin said.

Some pilots on PPRuNe are now calling for the mental health of pilots to be taken more seriously. A user named LadyL2013 wrote, “Considering the prevalence of MH problems most of us have probably been piloted by a sufferer. I think when you make it a very taboo thing, it drives it underground and problems may only get worse. Indeed I would encourage a very open and honest MH culture within aviation where a sufferer can be assessed and treated so that if possible they can continue their career with the appropriate support.”

After the crash of flight MH370 in March of 2014, experts called for mental health screenings of pilots. Some experts believe the pilot of MH370 had deliberately asphyxiated the passengers and crew and flew the plane into the Indian Ocean. International law requires airlines to regularly screen pilots for alcohol and drug abuse but not for mental health problems.

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