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Germanwings Flight 4U9525 -- What We Know So Far


What is known:

  • Accident: Germanwings 4U9525 crashed in the French Alps near Prads-Haute-Bléone en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf – 24 March 2015

  • Aircraft: Germanwings Airbus A320; MSN147, D-AIPX. Delivered to Lufthansa in 1991. 24 years old. 58,300 hr and 46,700 cycles. Powered by two CFM56-5A1 turbofan engines. Germanwings is a low-fare arm of Lufthansa. Source: Airbus
  • More airframe information is available in this blog from Aviation Week Intelligence Network's fleets team 
  • Captain: 6,000 hr. flight time. Airline pilot for 10 years. Source: Germanwings press conference
  • Takeoff: 10:00 am local time in Barcelona (GMT+1). Source: Flightradar24.com, FlightAware.com
  • Route: Barcelona to Dusseldorf – 144 passengers and six crew. Same route flown by 4U9525 (D-AIQP) the previous day. Graphic by Flightradar24.com

  • Reached cruise altitude of FL380 (approximately 38,000 ft.) roughly 27 minutes after takeoff at 10:27 am local time. Cruise ground speed of 476 kt., similar to previous day’s flight. Source: Flightradar24.com
  • Began a descent from cruise altitude without clearance and with no communications from the crew to air traffic control at approximately 10:31 am local time. Transponder code throughout the flight remained on the initial assigned code of 5512 (the emergency code is 7700). Source: Germanwings press conference, Flightradar24.com, FlightAware.com
  • Descent continued relatively straight ahead for approximately 9 minutes at vertical descent rates from 2,000 – 5,000 feet per minute. Ground speed varied between 490 kt. and 378 kt. at time of last ADS-B signal received. Source: Flightradar.com
  • Last position picked up by a Flightradar24 ground ADS-B receiver at approximately 10:40 am local and 6,800 ft. altitude, either due to crash or loss of signal at the receiver site. Source: Flightradar.com
  • Lufthansa’s last fatal accident involved another one of its Airbus A320s registered as D-AIPN. The aircraft overshot the runway upon landing at Warsaw’s Chopin International Airport on September 14, 1993. Two people on board died. 

What is not known:

  • Why the crew descended from cruise altitude with no radio contact and no change to transponder code

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