The Last Time A Pilot Crashed A Plane On Purpose Was Mozambique Airlines Flight 370 & More Recently Than You Thought
The Germanwings incident has shocked the entire world. The notion that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps as the captain desperately tried to reenter the cockpit to stop him sounds like the plot out of a horror movie. It's not unprecedented, either. A little over a year ago, the same scenario played out on an African-owned airplane. The pilot of Mozambique Airlines Flight 470 deliberately crashed the plane, killing himself and every passenger, just as Andreas Lubitz did.
Since the incident on Tuesday, the international community has been horrified by the details emerging about the Germanwings crash, most notably that pilot Lubitz had deliberately crashed the plane, locking the other pilot out of the cockpit in the process. On Thursday, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said that, based on the cockpit recording, Lubitz intended to "destroy the aircraft."The incident has left Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, in shock. At a press conference in Cologne, Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr called the incident "beyond our worst nightmare." German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a similar statement, saying at a press conference, "Something like this goes beyond anything we can imagine."
However, for those in another part of the world, the incident is not at all unimaginable; it's more like eerie déjà vu. On November 29, 2013, Mozambique Airlines Flight 470 was on its way to Angola from Mozambique when it crashed into Bwabwata National Park in Namibia. After its investigation, the head of the Civil Aviation Institute, Joao Abreu, revealed that pilot Hermino dos Santos Fernandes had the "clear intention" to crash the aircraft.
Just like with Germanwings, the Mozambique flight's cockpit recording revealed that the co-pilot was locked out and was trying to get back in. Abreu told a press conference that Fernandes made a "deliberate series of maneuvers" and added:
During these actions you can hear low and high-intensity alarm signals and repeated beating against the door with demands to come into the cockpit.
According to the flight data recorder, Fernandes had manually changed the plane's altitude from 38,000 feet to 592 feet, which is below ground level. Because investigators detected no malfunctions on the relatively new jet and the weather conditions were safe for flying, officials believe that Fernandes may have been suicidal. According to International Business Times, rumors suggested that the pilot's marriage was deteriorating and that he had lost a son.
Before the Mozambique incident, the last deliberate crash was in 1999, when the co-pilot of EgyptAir Flight 990 downed his plane as an act of revenge, officials believe, killing 217 people. Other crashes that were believed to have been intentional include SilkAir Flight 185 in 1997, Royal Air Maroc Flight 185 in 1994, and Japan Airlines Flight 350 in 1982. Images: RealIvanSanchez/Flickr, Getty Images (2)