"Damaged" Black Box Holds Only Hope For Explanation Of Germanwings Mystery Crash

"Seeing the site of the accident was harrowing," said Lufthansa's CEO yesterday after the mysterious crash of the Germanwings Airbus A320 with 150 people aboard as local reporters said of the scene, we "can't even identify anything that looks like a plane.". But today, investigators are no further forward in understanding the reason for the unexplained accident. As NBC News reports, some Germanwings crew members have refused to fly until an explanation is found and the discovery of the "slightly damaged" black boxes is hoped to hold the key to explain the lack of communication from the crew, rapid descent, and apparent cessation of the un-override-able fly-by-wire auto pilot.

"It's a difficult operation, the terrain is so rough," Cazeneuve's spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told NBC News. "We will take all the time necessary," he added, saying those who had flown over the site "can't even identify anything that looks like a plane."

The aircraft was traveling at 430 mph when it crashed and its impact was "very hard," according to Jean-Paul Troadec, former head of France's Bureau of Investigation for Aviation.

NBC reports...

 

And the plane's flightpath...

 

For now the cockpit voice recorder tracks all conversations between the pilots as well as any noises in the cockpit has been found... but is heavily damaged



The potentially more important flight data recorder, which has not yet been recovered, captures 25 hours' worth of information on the position and condition of almost every major part in a plane.

And, as Bloomberg notes, investigators probing the cause of the Airbus crash in the French Alps on Tuesday will rely on the jet’s so-called black boxes to explain why it was lost on a routine daylight flight with no distress signals from the crew.

Search teams continue to scour a debris field strewn across mountain slopes for the A320’s flight-data recorder after retrieving its cockpit-voice recorder yesterday. The two devices will be analyzed in Paris by the BEA air accident investigation authority, which plans to hold a briefing this afternoon.

 

The fortified boxes, actually painted bright orange to facilitate retrieval in the field, should give investigators a fuller picture of an accident’s cause when used in concert. One records sounds from the cockpit, with the other providing a wealth of technical parameters to help build a second-by-second account of the flight from takeoff to impact with the ground.

 

The Germanwings tragedy, which claimed the lives of all 150 people on board, has perplexed experts because the aircraft had only just settled into cruising altitude when it began an unauthorized descent, while still following its flight path.

 

There was no communication with the flight deck despite several attempts to make contact from air traffic control on the ground, suggesting the pilots were either busy trying to salvage the plane or were incapacitated and unable to respond.

 

"It is a highly unusual event,” said David Learmount, head of air-safety at Flight Global Group Inc. “For a modern short-haul airliner to develop -- in the cruise phase of flight -- problems the crew cannot deal with is almost unheard of.”

 

The A320, a single-aisle jet that’s the backbone of many global fleets, was heading from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, having flown to the Spanish city earlier in the day. Germanwings is the low-cost arm of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, and the airline has never had an accident that has claimed the lives of all those aboard.

 

“For us all at Lufthansa and Germanwings, let me say that it’s simply inexplicable how a technically flawless airplane with two experienced Lufthansa pilots, how such a flight can turn into such a tragedy,” Lufthansa Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr said today at Frankfurt airport, adding that the carrier “will work with high pressure” to assist in the probe.

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