Andreas Lubitz from pilot to mass killer

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Today marks another sad day in the story of aviation as it was confirmed that 28 year old co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was the probable cause of Germanwings flight 4U9525 being deliberately flown into the French Alps on Tuesday with the loss of 150 people.

This tragedy comes as the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370), thought to have also of been through the deliberate actions of one or both of the pilots, is still fresh in our minds with questions still hanging in the air about how it is possible for a pilot to block entry to the cockpit of his fellow pilot?  Malaysia 370 also raised serious questions about how it is possible for all communications from a plane to be shut off – effectively cloaking the plane and making it invisible?

Given the advances in military listening technology – it is hard to believe that the final location of MH370 isn’t known to at least one intelligence gathering agency.  However, any country with this specific information may be unwilling to provide such detail as it would compromise their secret data gathering sources and point to specific activity happening in that area which they were monitoring.

APTOPIX Spain France Plane Crash

The big question arising from Germanwings flight 4U9525 and European air travel in general is why we allow one person to be left at the controls of an aircraft at anyone time? In America, at least, if one of the pilots is required to leave the cockpit – a senior steward is called to occupy that space – leaving two people in the cockpit at all times.  Why have we been so lax here in Europe? Why did so many people have to die for such an easy procedure to be put in place?

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What made Andreas Lubitz take the actions he did will be discussed, dissected and debated for years to come.  The fact he did what he did is not just unforgivable but also the worst possible final action that anyone could take.  To kill yourself is a personal tragedy, but to kill yourself and many others, whom have placed their full trust in you – is totally reprehensible and cowardly.

Andreas will never know the individual personal sorrow of the families of those who perished  nor face the consequences of his actions.  And maybe the media place too much focus on these killers.  Maybe the real focus should be on the victims – and not the perpetrators.  Do we need to know his name?  Do we need to see his face? What of his family – how much privacy are they now entitled to?

What of the checks that are done on pilots?  If someone is going through a difficult time which is causing them mental stress – what are checks and balances in place to spot such signs – but also, how are pilots treated who do suffer mental issues?  How does the industry treat them?

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Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin stated in a press conference that the blackbox audio recorder showed the Captain had left the cockpit, possibly to use the toilet, and was denied access when he returned.  It was during the absence of the Captain that Lubitz manipulated the flight monitoring system that put the plane into a descent. “The action of selecting the altitude could only have been done voluntarily,” Prosecutor Robin said.

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He then detailed how the flight commander was heard to tap on the door to demand for it to be opened and that several calls were made by the Captain to the co-pilot for access to the cockpit in which the Captain identified himself – but there was no response from the cockpit or co-pilot.  However, the co-pilots breathing was clearly audible and the inputs required to keep the plane on it’s continuing decent meant that the co-pilot was not incapacitated and was indeed manipulating the plane.

Prosecutor Robin added: “The control tower at Marseille, receiving no response from the aircraft, asked for a distress code, and the activation of the transponder for a forced landing. There was no response. Air traffic control asked other aircraft in the area for a radio relay to try to contact the Airbus. No response came.

Germanwings A320 Plane Crash, France - 24 Mar 2015

In further revelations about the last moments of the plane it was stated “Alarms went off signalling the aircraft’s proximity to the ground, and we heard the sound of violent blows as if someone is trying to force the door. Just before the final impact we hear the sound of an impact on the [rock] embankment. There was no distress signal, no ‘mayday, mayday, mayday’ received by air traffic control….I don’t think the passengers realised what was happening until the last moments because on the recording we can only hear cries in the final seconds.”

The fact this disaster has been caused by deliberate human action is probably the worst outcome of any possible reason.  One man’s decision has lead to such grief, anguish and hurt.  He may not be missed – but it is to the families of the dead who are sorely missed – that we have to give our thoughts to and feelings.  As I watch the news coverage – the focus has shifted from that of the victims to that of the killer.  Maybe we all have lessons to learn.

And, out of all possible circumstances that could bring a plane down – wasn’t this always a likely scenario?

Here is a video that details the workings of the cockpit door – which appears to be the barrier to the Captain being able to try and intervene forcing a different possible outcome.

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Jeremy Clarkson Sacked From The BBC – good.

BBC Top Gear Clarkson Sacked

Today (March 25, 2015) the BBC’s Director-General issued a statement which included the fact that Jeremy Clarkson’s contract on TopGear would not be continued.

There was a concerted campaign by, what one can only assume, fans of the show to keep Jeremy in position.  However, when you read the detail of the investigation that was carried out by Ken MacQuarrie you realise that here was a man (Jeremy) – using his position as a highly paid star to bully, intimidate and physically attack a member of staff  (the producer) – because no hot food was made available to him.  This is from a man who is estimated to be a multi-millionaire.  Let him by his own f’ing dinner.

Tony Hall made the following points.

The BBC is a broad church. Our strength in many ways lies in that diversity. We need distinctive and different voices but they cannot come at any price. 

This has obviously been difficult for everyone involved but in particular for Oisin. I want to make clear that no blame attaches to him for this incident. He has behaved with huge integrity throughout.

When you read the findings of the investigation – which is not disputed by Jeremy, you will read of a tale which seems to echo the 1980s and 1990s when bullying and intimidation were epidemic in all walks of business and life.  We have moved from the days when this type of intimidation is acceptable.  As the investigation states ” it is clear that Oisin Tymon (producer attacked by Jeremy) was shocked and distressed by the incident, and believed that he had lost his job”.

Jeremy Clarkson will now probably do the chat show rounds and the whole incident will be turned into some kind of bloke skirmish.  However, it is far from that. It’s not only serious but Clarkson should be ashamed that he behaved in the way he did.  He should be pilloried for what he done – not made into some kind of – laddish quibble sorted out the ‘man’s way’.

Investigation findings – Ken MacQuarrie

On 9 March 2015, Jeremy Clarkson reported to BBC management that he had been involved in a physical and verbal incident with Oisin Tymon, the producer of Top Gear, at the Simonstone Hall Hotel, North Yorkshire, whilst working on location. The incident had occurred on 4 March 2015 and Jeremy Clarkson was suspended on 10 March, pending investigation.

I was asked to undertake an investigation to establish the facts of what occurred. In conducting my investigation, in line with the BBC’s usual practice, I interviewed a number of witnesses and others connected with the incident. Accounts were agreed, based on my interviews, with each participant.

Having conducted these interviews and considered the evidence presented, I conclude the following: on 4 March 2015 Oisin Tymon was subject to an unprovoked physical and verbal attack by Jeremy Clarkson. During the physical attack Oisin Tymon was struck, resulting in swelling and bleeding to his lip. The verbal abuse was sustained over a longer period, both at the time of the physical attack and subsequently.

Specific facts I have found as part of my investigation are as follows: earlier on 4 March, studio recording of Top Gear had taken place in Surrey and the presenters had travelled that same evening to the location shoot in North Yorkshire;

  •  the incident occurred on a patio area of the Simonstone Hall Hotel, where Oisin Tymon was working on location for Top Gear;
  • the physical attack lasted around 30 seconds and was halted by the intervention of a witness;
  • it is the case that Oisin Tymon offered no retaliation;
  • the verbal abuse was directed at Oisin Tymon on more than one occasion – both during the attack and subsequently inside the hotel – and contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack him. The abuse was at such volume as to be heard in the dining room, and the shouting was audible in a hotel bedroom;
  • derogatory and abusive language, relating to Oisin Tymon and other members of the Top Gear team, continued to be used by Jeremy Clarkson inside the hotel, in the presence of others, for a sustained period of time;
  • it is clear that Oisin Tymon was shocked and distressed by the incident, and believed that he had lost his job;
  • following the attack, I understand that Oisin Tymon drove to a nearby A&E department for examination;
  • over the subsequent days, Jeremy Clarkson made a number of attempts to apologise to Oisin Tymon by way of text, email and in person; and
  • it is the case that Jeremy Clarkson reported the incident to BBC management.

It was not disputed by Jeremy Clarkson or any witness that Oisin Tymon was the victim of an unprovoked physical and verbal attack. It is also clear to me that Oisin Tymon is an important creative member of the Top Gear team who is well-valued and respected. He has suffered significant personal distress as a result of this incident, through no fault of his own.

POEM: At The Last Watch by Rabindranath Tagore

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Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of Gitanjali and its “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse”,[3] he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.[4] In translation his poetry was viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his “elegant prose and magical poetry” remain largely unknown outside Bengal.

Every Saturday morning on 106.9 SFM’s Saturday Breakfast with Jason McCrossan – Gill Fraser Lee reads poems in Tranquil Time – poetry on the radio today. Today she reads Rabindranath’s poem “At The Last Watch”.

TV Themes – Jason’s Top 20 List

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I covered Sunday Breakfast today on 106.9 SFM in which I came up with a list of my 20 favourite TV Themes and asked people to guess which of the themes made it onto said list.  The response was very good with a surprising number of people picking off songs from my list – with one chap evening correctly guessing the theme at the top of my list.

So, I love TV themes – always have.  I can sit on the train, as I did just the other day, and just listen to them.  Good themes have been crafted like a painting that means they are instantly enjoyable, always recognisable and forever to be cherished.  There is definitely an art to writing a good theme – and sometimes they are just as memorable as the programme itself.  Or in some cases – because the theme tune was good- people forget that actually – the programme which accompanied it – didn’t quite live up to those opening bars.

Here is my list.  And yes – I could tweak here – shunt there – add or subtract at will – a process which could even out last our sun.  Even as I wrote in this page – I question why I had put some themes above others.  It’s not a science – it’s all personal taste- and as I have discovered my taste changes all the time!

Remember this is about the music – not the quality of the show!

How does it match with a list you’d do?

My Favourite Top 20 TV Themes

Number         Artist                    Title
20                  Joe Scarbury         Believe It Or Not
FROM:          The Greatest American Hero

19                  Ron Grainer            The Prisoner
FROM:          The Prisoner

18                  Alan Hawkshaw      Grange Hill
FROM:          Grange Hill

17                 Tony Hatch              Emmerdale
FROM:          Emmerdale

16                 Johnny Pearson       All Creatures Great And Small
FROM:         All Creatures Great And Small 

15                 Ron Grainer             Tales Of The Unexpected
FROM:         Tales Of The Unexpected

14                 Ron Grainer             Dr. Who
FROM:         Dr. Who

13                 May Osbourne         Howard’s Way
FROM:         Howard’s Way

12                 David Croft               ‘Allo ‘Allo
FROM:         ‘Allo ‘Allo

11                 Stu Phillips                Knight Rider
FROM:         Knight Rider

10                Ian Freebairn-Smith  Magnum P.I
FROM:        Magnum P.I

09                Terry Bush                The Littlest Hobo
FROM:        The Littlest Hobo

08                Dennis Waterman     I Could Be So Good for You
FROM:        Minder

07                Jerrold Immel           Dallas
FROM:        Dallas

06               Denis King                The Adventures ofBlack Beauty
FROM:       The Adventures of Black Beauty

05              Laurie Johnson          The Professionals
FROM:      The Professionals

04              Bill Conti                    Cagney & Lacey
FROM:      Cagney & Lacey

03              Joe Fagin                  Auf Weidersehen Pet (That’s Livin’ Alright)
FROM:      Auf Weidersehen Pet


02              Jim Diamond              Hi Ho Silver
FROM:      Boon

01                                                 Juliet Bravo                           Juliet Bravo

FROM:     Juliet Bravo