Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Why the Germanwings Plane Crash Seems So Close to Home

The shocking news of the Germanwings plane (flight 9525) crash today over France in the Alps on a flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf with 150 lives lost is resonating far and wide.

This airplane disaster feels very close to home to me.

Just last Thursday I was flying back from Berlin where I spoke at the DPG scientific conference and had flown there from Boston Logan the Saturday before via British Airways. On the latter flight I was seated next to a prep school (Pingrey)  group which was en route to Barcelona. There was also a school group on the Germanwings flight (Germanwings is owned by Lufthansa) that crashed today. On my flight to Boston via Heathrow on British Airways last Thursday we had extra passengers since the Lufthansa pilots were on strike, which I thought strange.

And last summer my husband and I flew via Germanwings from Berlin to Catania (after bailing out of an Air Berlin flight due to an 8 hour delay) and also from Thessaloniki to Gothenburg via Dussledorf. I had conferences to speak at in both Sicily and Greece and was spending time as a Visiting Professor at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

I have been seeing lots of press coverage on Professor Arnie Barnett's research in view of this Gremanwings crash. Professor Barnett of MIT is a colleague from INFORMS and is an aviation security and safety expert. USA Today has an article noting his work entitled: Despite flurry of tragedies, air crashes are rareWe hosted him at the Isenberg School in our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speakers Series a while back.

With the black box recovery I hope that the mystery of the cause of this Airbus plane crash is solved.

Our hearts go out to all those who lost family members and friends in this plane crash.