Update on Germanwings; news conference highlights

March 25, 2015: It’s the end of the business day in France, where the Germanwings A320 crashed. Here’s the latest:

  • The cockpit voice recorder was recovered yesterday, badly damaged. It’s been reported that investigators are having difficulty recovering data.
  • The flight data recorder was recovered today, but it, too, was badly damaged and the memory chip is reported missing.
  • There is a theory emerging in Europe that the cockpit windscreen cracked, causing a depressurization that led to hypoxia and pilot incapacitation. Christine Negroni, who is a safety journalist, talks about this possibility in a recorded interview. However, John Cox, a safety expert, emailed us that the windscreen is double-paned and this hasn’t happened before. He is a former A320 captain with a major US airline.
  • A news conference is reportedly scheduled for 11am Eastern time.

News conference highlights

As could be expected, there was little concrete information about the events of the airplane and what caused the accident. Remi Jouty, director of of the French Bureau of Investigation, recounted the flight path and communication concerns of the Air Traffic Control. He also said:

  • The descent began eight minutes after the last communication with the airplane.
  • The CVR has audible data, but it’s too soon to have any kind of analysis of what’s on the data. Initial analysis could be days away but a detailed transcript weeks and months.
  • Although the New York Times reported the second black box, the flight data recorder, has been recovered but was missing the all-important data chip, Jouty said (via the translator) “We have not at all localized the second black box.” News reports quote the French president saying the box itself was recovered but it had no contents.
  • Responding to questions about the theories of depressurization, Jouty said (via translator), “AT this point I don’t have even a beginning of a scenario. I refuse to construct any kind of scenario to include depressurization of the airplane.”
  • Jouty did not know if the auto-pilot was engaged.
  • He confirmed the descent rate was about 3,000 ft/min with some “fluctuations,” based on radar data.

We don’t believe there is going to be any news of consequence to the investigation until the CVR audio is analyzed and information released; and/or until the flight data recorder is found and analyzed. Mapping wreckage and recovery of remains will continue.

We’ll monitor events but otherwise plan to stand down until developments warrant.