What a bleak irony that a cockpit door designed to lock terrorists out instead locked a suicidal killer in!
The dreadful fate of 149 passengers because of a mentally unstable co-pilot is one of the most terrifying tragedies in all of aviation history. Those poor passengers included two infants, two opera singers, a class of students, their two teachers, three Americans and so many other good people – all of them eager and ready to resume their lives once that jet landed in Dusseldorf, Germany. It never did, of course. Because of a deranged co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, all of those good people died instantly when the plane crashed in the French Alps.
It’s quite impossible to fathom the horror of what those passengers suffered in those last 10 terrifying minutes.
The entire incident is so freaky, so far from the realm of normality that it’s yet another reminder to us the living how evanescent life is – how it hangs by a thread that can be snapped at any moment. It’s chilling and confounding to think if that pilot had not had to leave the cockpit to use the bathroom, the co-pilot probably could not have crashed that plane.
The incident, fortunately, is also reminding us that airline policies have got to be changed, the sooner the better. Lubitz was not the first suicidal pilot. Years ago, an Egyptian pilot took down a jet carrying more than 200 passengers off Nantucket, en route to Cairo from New York. There have been other examples, most involving smaller, lighter planes piloted by unstable people.
It’s time to do something about policies regarding those who hold our lives in their hands – not just airline pilots but drivers of our public transportation, such as buses, trains and boats. We tend to forget how many drunk, sleepy or mentally unstable people at the wheel caused their passengers hideous injuries and deaths.
We must pressure our legislators to make sure the following changes are made in the airline industry, and the changes must be made internationally:
- There must be one pilot and two co-pilots in the cockpit for each flight.
- The backgrounds of each pilot must be more rigorously checked by investigators who know exactly how to do that in depth and in detail. Lubitz kept his mental problems from Lufthansa officials all too easily, and there’s even evidence surfacing that the airline knew of his instability.
- Therapists or medical doctors who treat pilots or other drivers of transportation for mental problems must report their concerns about imminent danger immediately to the pilot’s airline, transportation companies or law enforcement.
These policies sound like something out of Big Brother’s Dystopia, but, like them or not, they should become iron-clad mandatory to protect innocent travelers from such a criminal horror ever happening again.