This Isn't the First 'Suicide by Plane Crash'

Germanwings crash chillingly similar to 2013 crash
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2015 1:04 AM CDT
This Isn't the First 'Suicide by Plane Crash'
This Nov. 30, 2013, photo shows parts of a Mozambique Airlines plane that crashed in Bwabwata National Park, Namibia.   (AP Photo/NAMPA, Olavi Haikera)

It's thankfully very rare for a pilot to decide midflight that it's time for themselves and everybody on board to die, but Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz isn't the first believed to have done so. While the lack of survivors can make such cases hard to confirm, experts believe a recent Mozambique Airlines crash was the result of the pilot deliberately steering it into the ground, killing himself and 32 others in a crash with chilling similarities to the Germanwings crash. Investigators say the pilot locked himself into the cockpit, and the co-pilot, who had gone to the bathroom, could be heard banging on the door until moments before the crash, the BBC reported after the November 2013 crash.

The AP lists several other cases, including the 1999 crash of EgyptAir Flight 990—in which US investigators say 217 people died after a pilot repeatedly saying "I rely on God" brought the plane down after takeoff from New York—and crashes in Indonesia, Morocco, and Japan. What goes through the minds of suicidal pilots? "This is not so different in some ways from someone who walks into a school and kills a bunch of people, and then kills themselves," the executive director of the American Association of Suicidology tells the New York Times. She won't speculate more until more specifics are known, but she says it's possible for a suicidal people to pass psychological exams, as Lubitz did, when they "know what's going to raise a red flag." (More plane crash stories.)

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