Investigations into the Germanwings crash of Flight 9525 in March, 2015 suggests that the cause of the crash was a murder-suicide by the co-pilot of the plane. Although evidence supports the idea that the pilot was locked out of the cockpit by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, further investigations into the crash are still taking place. If it is determined that the crash was deliberate and was, in fact, a murder-suicide, then it is the second-largest aviation murder-suicide due to the number of fatalities.
The SilkAir Flight
Although the tragic crash by the Germanwings Flight 9525 is still under investigation, there are previous incidents of murder-suicide in the aviation industry. There are notable crashes that caused fatalities by previous pilots or co-pilots in the past.
Perhaps the most notable crash was by SilkAir Flight 185 in December of 1997. During the flight from Jakarta to Singapore, the plane crashed into the Musi River of Indonesia. Every individual on board, a total of 107 passengers and flight staff, were killed in the crash after a swift 30,000 foot drop. It was not considered a murder-suicide until the year 2000, when investigators determined that the pilot deliberately disconnected the voice recorder in the cockpit.
Investigations into the SilkAir incident determined that the pilot, Tsu Way Ming, had financial challenges and had been previously demoted due to the lack of discipline. The plane did not issue any distress calls before suddenly disappearing from radar.
Egypt Air Flight 990
The largest case of murder-suicide by a pilot was the Egypt Air Flight 990 from Los Angeles to Cairo on Halloween, 1999. The plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean roughly 60 miles to the east of Nantucket.
The plane crashed only 33 minutes into the flight after taking off from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport after a brief stop-over at the airport. Every person on board, a total of 217 individuals, were killed.
Although an investigation concluded that Egypt Air Flight 990 was a murder-suicide because the plane’s auto-pilot was deactivated and the co-pilot Gamil al-Batouti was showing signs of stress, it was not officially reported as a murder-suicide in news reports at the time of the crash. Although the final investigation determined that the airplane controls were manipulated by the co-pilot, Batouti did not have any history of previous suicidal tendencies and family members refuted the idea that it was a murder-suicide.
Further investigations determined that an additional motive may be the cause of the crash. In 2002, a former captain at the airline suggested that the motive may have been related to a reprimand from a company executive, Hatem Rushdy, that occurred shortly before the flight.
Identifying the cause of a plane crash is not always easy and investigators take time to determine whether it was an accident caused by malfunctions on the plane or a deliberate act from the pilot. In the case of the Germanwings crash, early investigations suggest that it was a murder-suicide..