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France drops Germanwings crash inquiry

Timothy Jones
March 3, 2022

A French court has closed an inquiry into the deadly crash of a Germanwings flight in the French Alps in 2015. It said no one could have foreseen the suicidal act of the co-pilot, who deliberately flew into a mountain.

Memorial stone set up in the French Alps
A memorial has been erected at the site of the crashImage: picture alliance/dpa/P. Kneffel

A court in the southern French city of Marseille has said it is dropping proceedings for involuntary manslaughter in the case of the crash of a Germanwings Airbus in 2015, according to French media.

Altogether 150 people, most of them from Germany, were killed in the crash, including the co-pilot who deliberately caused the disaster.

The French judges had been investigating whether any culpability for negligent homicide could have been ascribed to the airline or doctors for not having foreseen the danger posed to passenger safety by the co-pilot.

What did the judges rule?

In a 45-page ruling, the three judges in charge of the case concluded that no one could have predicted that the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, would have acted the way he did despite his known mental illness, according to French newspaper Le Parisien.

They ruled that the criteria for the criminal offense of negligent homicide had not been met.

The ruling absolved not only the managing directors of Germanwings — now Eurowings — and its parent company, Lufthansa, but also the doctors consulted by the co-pilot before the crash.

They said the company had not been told why he had been taking time off work, and that neither the aviation medical service nor the co-pilots had been informed of the trouble he had been having.

View of the crash site
The plane came down near the small town of Seyne-les-AlpesImage: Getty Images/AFP/C. Paris

What happened in the crash?

Germanwings Flight 9525 was a scheduled flight from Barcelona in Spain to the western German city of Düsseldorf on March 24, 2015. It was carrying six crew and 144 passengers, including 16 pupils and teachers returning from a school exchange visit.

Some 30 minutes into its flight, the plane began to descend from its assigned cruising altitude and ended up crashing in the French Alps some 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of the French city of Nice.

An investigation showed that the co-pilot had locked the pilot out of the cockpit before deliberately initiating the descent and eventual crash of the aircraft.

It was the only fatal crash involving a Germanwings aircraft during the airline's 18 years in operation.

dpa contributed to this report