UPDATED 16:40 UTC (17:40 Paris time) | A sad day for the families of 144 passengers and six crew on board Germanwings Airbus A320 with flight number 4U 9525 en route from Barcelona to Düsseldorf on Tuesday 24 March 2015. Due to still unknown reason the jet dropped from cruise altitude in a relatively short period of time of 10 minutes and crashed into the French Alps. Initial French reports indicate there are no survivors. The victims are said to mostly from Spain, Germany and Turkeyy. One Dutch and one Belgian victim are also reported.
French president Hollande confirmed the crash and the unlikeliness of findings survivors. French air traffic control apparently raised the alarm almost an hour after take off, at 09:47 UTC, when it was unable to reach the crew while the plane showed a clear rate of descent of about 3,000 to 4,000 feet per minute. Relatively shortly afterwards the disintegrated wreckage was found in mountainous terrain near the villages of Prads-Haute-Bléone and Digne-les-Bains, with the larger town of Barcelonnette, 65 miles (100km) from the city of Nice in Southern France, close by. The weather reports indicate fine conditions at the time of the crash.
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58,000 flight hours
The crashed aircraft with registration code D-AIPX is with 24 years in service with the Lufthansa Group – Germanwings’ mother company – one of the older A320s in the fleet. Since its delivery in February 1991 it had accumulated approximately 58,000 flight hours. Shortly after the crash the Germanwings website was offline apart from a short message about the crash and where to call to for relatives of those on board. Among them likely about 45 Spanish citizens, according to the Spanish deputy prime minister on Tuesday afternoon.
French Air Force
According to radar images shown on Flightradar24 a French Air Force C-135FR (id FAF4012) from Istres was flying circuits near the crash site Tuesday afternoon. The French version of the Boeing KC-135 tanker was flying circuits as a communications relay for the rescue services before it was relieved by a Boeing E-3F AWACS from BA702 Avord.
The French Air Force also sent up a Dassault Mirage 2000 for (photo) recon duties, while a Eurocopter (Airbus Helicopters) AS550 Fennec of EH 5/67 based at Orange and a Super Puma of EH 1/44 based at Solenzara were scrambled. The nearest government rotary wing were Gendarmerie (national police) EC145s based at Aiglun/Lt. Collard in Digne-les-Bains. Three of these were in the air, as well as three Gendarmerie EC350 Ecureuil choppers. The French Army sent two Puma medium-size helicopters to support the Gendarmerie, with a third on stand-by.
The Germanwings A320 crash comes only three months after a similar aircraft of AirAsia went down in bad weather near Indonesia. The type is one of the most common airliners in use, with more than 6,415 delivered to date in various versions and derivatives like the A319 and A321.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editors Marcel Burger & Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A Germanwings A320 taking off (Image (CC) Sebaso)