The role of the Airbus cockpit lock in the Germanwings crash
This past week, investigators made some startling conclusions after analysing the flight data recorders of Germanwings Flight 9525: the crash was deliberate on the part of the co-pilot.
What were the changes made to the way cockpit doors lock and unlock and how did that play a part in the tragedy that killed 150 people?
New airline safety protocols mandate that doors should be kept locked at all times.
If, for example, a flight attendant needs to go into the cockpit, access must be requested through the communication system and the pilots flip a switch to unlock the door.
If both the the pilot and co-pilot become unconscious and can’t open the cockpit door, a flight attendant can punch a code into a keypad outside the door, alerting the crew inside that it's about to unlock in the next 30 seconds or so.
During this time anyone inside the cockpit can override the unlock function, a safeguard in case a hijacker found the code.
In the case of the Germanwings plane, the black box recorded the sound of the captain knocking and later on pounding on the door.
The over-ride from within the cockpit would have prevented the captain, who was locked out, from getting back into the plane’s control center.
In an interview with Popular Science, Vernon Grose, a former investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board says “Everything has a plus and a minus when it comes to technology.”
“The locking device is wonderful on one side if someone bad is trying to get in, but it’ll keep someone good out who needs to be in there.” – Rappler.com