Germanwings: Plane went into long descent

2015-03-24 17:28
(Emilio Morenatti, AP)

(Emilio Morenatti, AP)

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Here is a recap of how news unfolded after the Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed on Tuesday in the French Alps region as it travelled from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.


The boss of airline Germanwings says the plane went into a long descent before it crashed into the French Alps, likely killing all 150 people on board.

Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann said the plane began descending again shortly after it reached its cruising height following takeoff from Barcelona Airport. The descent lasted eight minutes, he told reporters in Cologne. Radar and air traffic control contact broke off at 10:53.

He said the pilot had more than 10 years' experience working for Germanwings and its parent airline Lufthansa. Airbus said the A320 was delivered to Lufthansa in 1991.

Germanwings said the passenger manifest included two babies. Officials believe there were 67 German nationals on board.


Officials at two airports are rushing to provide help and information to relatives and friends of the passengers aboard the crashed Germanwings flight 9525.

In Barcelona, from where the plane took off on Tuesday morning, police escorted people, some of them crying, through a terminal and took them to a secure part of the airport. They did not speak to the media, and one woman held a jacket over the head of a sobbing woman.

In Duesseldorf, the destination airport, family members arriving at the airport were taken from the main terminal to a nearby building. Airport employees partly covered the building with sheets to keep the relatives out of the eye of the public.

A total of 150 people were on board the plane when it crashed in the French Alps. No survivors are expected to be found.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will head to the remote mountain in the French Alps where a Germanwings passenger plane crashed with 150 people aboard.

She says her thoughts are "with those people who so suddenly lost their lives, among them many compatriots".

Merkel says she will travel to the region on Wednesday, a day after her foreign and transport ministers were heading to the crash site.

She is urging people not to speculate on the cause of the crash until an investigation can be conducted.

No survivors are expected in the crash of the plane, which was traveling Tuesday morning from Barcelona, Spain, to Duesseldorf, Germany.


The owner of a French Alpine camping ground says he heard a series of loud noises in the air before a Germanwings passenger plane carrying 150 people crashed to the ground.

Pierre Polizzi told The Associated Press the noise began at 11:30.

"There are often fighter jets flying over, so I thought it sounded just like that. I looked outside but I couldn't see any fighter planes."

"The noise I heard was long - like 8 seconds - as if the plane was going more slowly than a military plane speed. There was another long noise about 30 seconds later."

No survivors are expected in the crash of the plane that was travelling from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, Germany.

Polizzi said it would be difficult to get to the site of the crash. "The mountain is snowy and very hostile."


Spanish King Felipe has cancelled his state visit to France following the crash of a plane in the southern French Alps.

The plane was flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf in Germany, and Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told reporters in Seville that there were 45 people aboard the plane with Spanish last names but that authorities have not confirmed how many of them were Spanish.

Felipe met with French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday morning before ending his visit.

Airline Germanwings says there were 150 people on board the Airbus 320. Hollande has said no survivors are expected to be found.


Airline Germanwings says there were 144 passengers and six crew aboard a plane that crashed in the French Alps.

Manager Oliver Wagner did not say whether there were any survivors and added it was not currently possible to give more information on how the crash occurred. "I promise that we will do everything to clear up the events thoroughly," he said. "We are endlessly sorry for what has happened."

Other officials have given slightly differing figures for the number on board.

The Germanwings logo, normally maroon and yellow, was blacked out on its Twitter feed.


The Airbus 320 plane that went down in the French Alps is a workhorse of modern aviation. Similar to the Boeing 737, the single-aisle, twin-engine jet is used to connect cities that are between one and five hours apart. Worldwide, 3 606 A320s are in operation, according to Airbus, which also makes the smaller but near-identical A318 and A319 and the stretched A321. An additional 2,486 of those jets are flying.

The A320 family has a good safety record, with just 0.14 fatal accidents per million takeoffs, according to a Boeing safety analysis.


The CEO of Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, says he doesn't yet have any information about what happened to its flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf that French officials say has crashed in the Alps.

"My deepest sympathy is with all the relatives and friends of our passengers and crew on 4U 9525," Carsten Spohr was cited in a tweet by Lufthansa as saying. "If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors."

Antonio San Jose, spokesman for Spanish airport authority AENA, told the Onda Cero radio station that authorities do not yet know how many Spaniards were on the jet but that the authority's best information is that 147 people were aboard the plane.

"It would be a miracle if there were survivors but hopefully there will be. We do not know the causes, simply that it lost contact," San Jose said.


French President Francois Hollande has spoken briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to express solidarity following the crash of a Germanwings plane in southern France.

The German ambassador is leaving imminently with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve for the area of the crash.

Spanish King Felipe and his wife are in France on a previously scheduled visit and are currently meeting Hollande.


French Interior Ministry spokesperson Pierre-Henry Brandet says debris from the crash of an Airbus A320 has been located and the plane crashed at 2 000m altitude in the Alps.

Brandet told BFM television that he expected "an extremely long and extremely difficult" search and rescue operation because of the area's remoteness.

The airplane sent out a distress signal at 10:45 on Tuesday, Brandet said.

He said the passenger manifest is being verified.


French President Francois Hollande says no survivors are likely in the Alpine crash of a passenger jet carrying 148 people.

Eric Ciotti, the head of the regional council, said search-and-rescue teams were headed to the crash site at Meolans-Revels.

In a live briefing on Tuesday, Hollande said the area of the crash was remote and it was not clear whether anyone on the ground had been hurt. Hollande said it was probable that a number of the victims are German.

"It's a tragedy on our soil," he said, adding he would be speaking shortly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The French newspaper La Provence, citing aviation officials, said the Airbus plane carried at least 142 passengers, two pilots and four flight attendants.

Read more on:    germanwings  |  france  |  air travel  |  germanwings crash  |  air crashes

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