TIME

How the Germanwings Co-Pilot Was Able to Lock Himself In

Safety measures brought in after 9/11 may have helped the co-pilot barricade himself in the cockpit

The fatal crash of a German airliner in the French Alps, apparently a deliberate act by the plane’s co-pilot, seems to have been made possible by security measures brought in following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks intended to make air travel safer.

On Thursday, French officials said it appeared as if co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had deliberately downed Germanwings Flight 9525 by locking the cockpit door and refusing to allow the captain back inside. The crash killed all 150 on board.

If that is what happened, it would be an indirect result of tightened security measures implemented by airlines in the U.S. and around the world in the aftermath of 9/11, when 19 hijackers overcame crew and passengers and flew the planes into buildings in New York and Washington D.C.

In 2002, the FAA announced higher standards to protect pilots. Cockpit doors in airliners were made stronger while remaining locked throughout the flight. The FAA also mandated internal locking devices inside the cockpit to preventing someone from entering. But those restrictions, meant to prevent similar hijackings, may also have allowed Lubitz to prevent someone else from entering the flight deck as he piloted the jet into a mountainside.

“The procedures put in place to prevent one bad thing from happening facilitated another bad thing happening,” says Jeff Price, an aviation management professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

On an Airbus A320, a locked cockpit door can be opened through a nearby keypad—as shown in this Airbus video—but that can be overridden by an individual still inside the cockpit via a switch that can keep the cockpit door locked. “That act of fully locking the system down has made this event possible,” says aviation expert Chris Yates. “Pilots use that access keypad to wander into the cockpit anytime they choose, but it can be overridden from inside, and that seems to be the problem.”

Yates says one way to potentially avoid a similar situation would be to take out the locking mechanism altogether. But a simpler fix might be for all airlines to do as the U.S. has done since 9/11 and require a flight attendant to be inside the cockpit if one of the pilots is away. While some carriers have already begun doing this since the crash, many in Europe and across the world still don’t mandate it.

“U.S. airlines have been doing this since 9/11,” Price says. “And if the pilot decides to commit mass murder, there’s somebody else up there to open a door or notify somebody or take some sort of action.”

MORE How Pilots Are Screened for Depression and Suicide

Thomas Anthony, the director of the University of Southern California Aviation Safety and Security program, says there’s no one fix that would help prevent a similar incident. For any aviation mishap, he says, there are always four or five contributing factors, citing the Airbus’s strengthened cockpit doors as well as less interchange between the cabin crew and the flight crew, which he says has created a more isolated environment inside the cockpit. And he thinks any investigation into the downing of the German airliner will attempt to address this sort of insider threat.

“Every security measure that is taken has a price and often an unintended consequence,” Anthony says. “But I expect this will be a watershed event.”

Read next: Germanwings Plane Crash: We Could Be Doing Much More To Prevent Pilot Suicide

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TIME tragedy

Home of Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooter Demolished

Connecticut School Shooting Lanza Home
Autumn Driscoll—AP A crew finishes up the demolition, March 24, 2015, of the home of Nancy Lanza, where she had lived with her son Adam Lanza in Newtown, Conn.

Neighbors said the Newtown home was a reminder of the tragedy

Crews have torn down the home of the man who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Mass. The demolition took place Monday.

On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza killed his mother in the home before shooting 20 first-graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook and then committing suicide. The town acquired the property in December of 2014 and voted to tear the house down in January. Neighbors had complained that it reminded them of the tragedy, according to NBC Connecticut.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School building where the tragedy took place was torn down in 2013.

[NBC]

TIME Military

All But 2 Bodies Found After U.S. Military Copter Crash

A wheel and pieces of fuselage from an Army Black Hawk helicopter sit along the shoreline of Santa Rosa Sound near Navarre, Fla. on Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Devon Ravine—AP A wheel and pieces of fuselage from an Army Black Hawk helicopter sit along the shoreline of Santa Rosa Sound near Navarre, Fla., on March 11, 2015

The chopper was carrying four guardsmen and seven Marines when went it crashed

Search teams on Thursday found the wreckage of a crashed Army Black Hawk helicopter and recovered all but two of the bodies of servicemen killed in the Tuesday accident off the coast of Florida.

According to officials, the Louisiana National Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps were operating a nighttime training exercise when the helicopter, carrying four guardsmen and seven Marines, went down. Media reports say the night was heavy with a thick fog.

Nine bodies have been identified so far.

Another helicopter accompanying the crashed Black Hawk during the training drill returned safely.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is currently under way.

TIME Crime

Boston Bombing Victim Posts Courageous Open Letter to Tsarnaev

Boston Marathon Bombing Trial
Boston Globe—Getty Images Boston Marathon victim Rebekah Gregory, right, heads into the Moakley Courthouse for the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the Boston Marathon bombings.

"I looked at you right in the face ... and realized I wasn't afraid anymore"

A woman who lost her leg after injuries sustained in the Boston Marathon bombing posted an open letter to admitted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Facebook, saying she’s no longer afraid of the man who gave her nightmares.

“This afternoon,” Rebekah Gregory DiMartino wrote on Wednesday, “I got to walk into a courtroom and take my place at the witness stand, just a few feet away from where you were sitting … I looked at you right in the face … and realized I wasn’t afraid anymore.”

Although DiMartino said she found sitting in court upsetting, wrote she realized it was “the crazy kind of step forward that I needed all along.”

But she didn’t mince words when it came to the 27-year-old accused of 30 charges relating to the Marathon bombing and the ensuing chase and firefight:

…You are a coward. A little boy who wouldn’t even look me in the eyes to see that. Because you can’t handle the fact that what you tried to destroy, you only made stronger.

Gregory posted another open letter in November saying goodbye to her leg before amputation. Doctors had tried 15 surgeries to restore it to health.

Tsarnaev’s lawyer said, in so many words, “It was him” during her opening statement Wednesday. But she entered a plea of “not guilty,” arguing that he had been manipulated by his older brother, Tamerlan.

TIME natural disaster

Five Years Later, See TIME’s Coverage of the Haiti Earthquake

Haiti cover
PHOTOGRAPHS BY IVANOH DEMERS/MONTREAL LA PRESSE/AP The Jan. 25, 2010, cover of TIME

The earthquake devastated a nation that was on the verge of achieving long-term economic and political stability

Five years ago on Monday, just as the Caribbean nation of Haiti was beginning to stand on solid footing, the ground beneath it shook. The tremor flattened buildings and killed more than 200,000 people, bringing to a halt the country’s slow but encouraging progress toward economic and political stability.

“Tragedy has a way of visiting those who can bear it least,” TIME’s Michael Elliott observed shortly after, reporting on the earthquake. By then, the devastation wrought by the tremor was coming into focus. The capital city of Port-au-Prince, just 15 miles from the epicenter, had been largely leveled; the National Palace and the city’s cathedral were destroyed; and aid workers were already pleading for international help with messages like this email from Louise Ivers, clinical director for Haiti for the NGO Partners in Health: “Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS … Please help us.”

Support did flow in, in the form of aid workers, foreign aid, and more than $1 billion in charity. But the earthquake set back years of development work in the impoverished country. As TIME reported:

What makes the earthquake especially ‘cruel and incomprehensible,’ as U.S. President Barack Obama put it, was that it struck at a rare moment of optimism. After decades of natural and political catastrophes, the U.N. peacekeeping force and an international investment campaign headed by former President Bill Clinton, the U.N.’s special envoy to Haiti, had recently begun to calm and rebuild the nation.

Starting from scratch, the post-earthquake rebuilding process has made headway. Rubble that covered the ground and blocked transit routes, one of the most tangible signs of the country’s slow recovery in the months after the earthquake, has now largely been cleared. Infrastructure, including a new airport, has been rebuilt. And the number of people living in makeshift tent homes has dropped from some 1.5 million to 70,000, Harry Adam, head of the Department for Construction of Housing and Public Buildings told AFP.

But Haiti, which still hosts the U.N. peacekeeping force known as MINUSTAH (the French acronym for the mission), has a long path ahead. On Friday, the United Nations issued a grim warning of the risks facing the country, the poorest in the western hemisphere. “Persistent chronic poverty and inequality, environmental degradation and continuing political uncertainty threaten achievements Haitians have made over the past five years,” Wendy Bigham, the World Food Programme’s representative in Haiti, said in a statement. Meanwhile, an ongoing political crisis over long-overdue elections has slowed critical recovery efforts and threatens to devolve further. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, largely credited with overseeing much of the nation’s reconstruction since he took office in 2012, resigned last month amid mass street protests, but his departure has failed to lead to political compromise.

In a statement Wednesday that highlighted the consequences of political instability, the U.N. called for a political compromise by the end of the week “in order to strengthen stability, preserve the democratic gains and ensure sustainable development in Haiti.” Five year’s after the earthquake, Haiti can still scarcely bear more turmoil.

Browse TIME’s special issue about the Haiti earthquake: Haiti’s Tragedy

TIME world affairs

Charlie Hebdo Writer: ‘We Knew That the Threat Was Real’

Cartoonist Antonio Fischetti answers to
Alexander Klein—AFP/Getty Images Cartoonist Antonio Fischetti speaks to journalists in front of the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Nov. 2, 2011, in Paris after they were destroyed by a petrol-bomb attack overnight

A journalist with the French satirical newspaper talks about the unimaginable loss of so many slain colleagues and the future of his publication

Just after the attack that left at least 12 people dead at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Antonio Fischetti, a journalist for the paper, spoke with Coralie Schaub, a Libération staff reporter. His remarks follow:

“We knew that the threat was real, but we weren’t paranoid. Threats against Charlie were recurrent, continual, habitual. There weren’t more recently, and the vigilance had been relaxed. After the fire that destroyed our offices in 2011 [the paper was firebombed after publishing cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad in what Islamist groups said was an act of revenge], there has been a police car outside in front of the paper. At first, it was there all the time, and then during the editorial meeting on Wednesday mornings. But for some time, a month or two, it hasn’t been there. The attackers must have noticed. They really waited for the right moment. Even though there was a code to enter the building, even though you had to know that the newspaper was on the second floor, it was easier to get in to our current offices on Nicolas-Appert Street than it was at our previous location, on Serpollet Street.

Charb [editor in chief, Stéphane Charbonnier] still had his two bodyguards. When he came to have dinner with me, we joked a little about them. I asked him: ‘Well, where did you leave your two bodyguards?’ Once he took a taxi without them. The driver recognized him and asked him to get out right away. The bodyguard told him to never take a taxi alone. He even went on vacation with the guards.

We all said that someone a little crazy and determined, with a Kalashnikov, could go after Charlie. We all knew that Charb might be targeted, he had already been directly targeted by al-Qaeda on the Internet. The idea that we could be killed one day was always in our minds. But carnage of this magnitude, with the desire to kill everyone …

The miracles are those who were late [to work], like Luz [Renald Luzier] or Catherine Meurisse. Or absent like me — I was at a funeral outside Paris. We were friends, not just colleagues. I was particularly close to Charb and Tignous.

They wanted to completely eradicate a newspaper. This is not ‘just’ kill the editor. There are no words. This is really an act of war. All for drawings … they are sick. Charlie had a mission, supported by some, opposed by others. I am even more aware today how important this fight is. We were all in agreement that we should not give in. But they decided to eradicate this symbol of freedom that was Charlie … I talk about it in the past, because I do not see how the newspaper can survive this. Charlie was a newspaper of cartoonists. The writers, like me, are interchangeable. Them not. The Charbs, Tignous, Wolinskis — there are not even 50 like them. Not to mention Cabu.”

This account was excerpted and translated, with permission, from an article that originally appeared in Libération on Jan. 7. You can read the original story here.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Crime

See the Final Moments Before Boston Bombing Suspect Was Arrested

Cops cornered suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose trial began this week, on April 19, 2013

Sgt. Sean Murphy visited TIME in December 2013 to discuss the photographs he made during the dramatic capture of suspected Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on April 19, 2013, in one of the first interviews since he retired from the force. As the bombing suspect’s trial on 30 criminal counts begins in Boston this week, relive the final moments of the manhunt that led to his arrest. The full interview can be read on TIME LightBox.

TIME tragedy

Massachusetts Police Officer Runs Over and Kills College Student Lying in Road

Garrett Gagne, a 22-year-old senior and student athlete, was on Cape Cod to celebrate New Year's Eve

A Massachusetts police officer accidentally killed a college student in Chatham, Cape Cod, on Thursday, running over him as he lay in the road while responding to an emergency call.

Police said it is not known why Garrett Gagne was lying prone in the street at 4 a.m. or what his condition was at that point, the Associated Press reported.

Gagne, 22, a senior and student athlete at New York’s St. Lawrence University, was reportedly in Chatham to celebrate New Year’s Eve with his friends.

The officer, who has yet to be identified, immediately called for help on realizing he had hit Gagne, authorities said.

[AP]

TIME Aviation

Witness the Tragic Aftermath of AirAsia Flight 8501

Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency confirmed Tuesday that searchers had discovered debris from the missing AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 and the bodies of 40 passengers in the Java Sea. The Singapore-bound plane disappeared on Sunday with 162 people on board

TIME brazil

Four People Were Killed by a Lightning Strike on a Brazilian Beach

Local media reports say they included a pregnant woman and were from the same family

Four people were killed Monday by a lightning strike on a popular beach in Brazil, during a sudden storm off the coast of São Paulo.

Citing local media, the BBC says the four included a pregnant woman and were from the same family.

Four other people were injured and taken to hospital, with two said to be in a serious condition.

The victims were sheltering from the heavy rain under a kiosk on Praia Grande beach, near the port city of Santos, when they were struck.

An earlier storm on Monday tore down trees and power lines across São Paulo state, causing transport chaos.

[BBC]

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