The aircraft involved in the crash, Airbus A320 D-AIPX
So when it came to analysing the crash in France of a Germanwings flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, which killed all 150 on board the Airbus A320, there was never going to be any restraint: the tabloids have to know NOW. And don’t come any of this “grey area” stuff. This was not helped by the ridiculous situation in France, where the crash happened, where air crash investigators are not given total control of investigating air crashes.
As my good friend John Band has pointed out, this control is given over to the local “avocat”; it’s rather like the NTSB in the USA having to yield to the local District Attorney, a situation which would never be allowed to occur. And so enter Brice Robin, who has jumped to conclusions before even waiting for the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) to be recovered, relying only on the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR).
From the CVR data he concluded that, while the Commander left the flight deck to use the toilet, the First Officer locked him out and put the A320 into a descent which ended up with it flying into the ground at the instantly deadly speed of around 600km/h. This is not an impossible scenario. But in the hands of the press, it is an incendiary one: the hunt was now on to find any flaw in the First Officer’s psychological profile.
And so came the all too predictable headlines, led off by the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, which, as I suggested, has learned nothing since getting called out for calling Big Frank “bonkers”. “Crazed Rookie Pilot Murdered 149 … MADMAN IN COCKPIT” screamed the front page splash. The Mail was close behind: “Suicide pilot had a long history of depression … WHY ON EARTH WAS HE ALLOWED TO FLY?”
Yeah, stuff the partial evidence and the “avocat” jumping to conclusions, the press want you to know that, despite their massed ranks knowing little more than diddly squat about aviation, and less about air crash investigation, THEY KNOW WHO DONE IT. The Mirror knew that “KILLER PILOT SUFFERED FROM DEPRESSION”. The Express told its readers “WHY JET CRASH PILOT TURNED KILLER”.