A flight operated by GermanWings turned tragic this Tuesday March 24th 2015 for all its 144 travelers and 6 crew members. GermanWings flight 9525, operating on behalf of the wholly owned low cost subsidiary of global carrier Lufthansa had departed Barcelona at 10:01 am and was due to arrive at Dusseldorf at about 11:39 am before radar contact with French Air Traffic controllers was lost at approximately 10:45 am. The aircraft involved in the accident, an Airbus A320-211 registered D-AIPX was delivered brand new to owner Lufthansa in February 1991. During its 24 years service, the aircraft alternated lengthy duty terms with Lufthansa and GermanWings until January 31st 2014 when it was definitively re-assigned to GermanWings main fleet. Investigations from France’s BEA aviation investigation authority will have to determine the exact circumstances of the crash of the aircraft which had initiated a descent from its 38,000 feet cruising altitude, declaring an emergency before finally crashing.
Images from rescue crews helicoptered to the crash zone suggested the plane had completely disintegrated upon coming to impact with a mountain in France’s South East Alps region. Last radar contact from air traffic controllers reported the aircraft at an altitude of 6,800 ft, comforting the ‘controlled flight into a mountain’ theory. The debris field is located some 100 km northeast of the southern sea resort town of Nice. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy are planning to visit the area on Wednesday.
Preliminary reports point to some 67 German citizens traveling aboard that plane along with some 45 passengers from Spain. A number of British, Australian and Israeli citizens were thought to also have been traveling on the aircraft. It has been confirmed that 16 high school students from the German town of Haltern am See accompanied by two teachers had been among the victims. Following the crash, France’s air traffic controllers whose union had planned to go on strike for the following day March 25th had announced it would remain at work given the tragedy.