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Finnish official: Germanwings pilots were unconscious during descent

According to a Finnish aviation official, the pilots of a Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday were unconscious during the plane’s descent before it crashed.

Pekka Henttu.
Aviation expert Pekka Henttu. Image: Yle

A Finnish aviation official has shed new light on a Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday after a long descent from cruising altitude. Pekka Henttu of the Finnish Transport Safety Agency says that according to information he has received, the pilots were unconscious for most of the descent.

All 144 passengers and six crew died in the crash, which occurred some 100km north of the city of Nice.

"Sound recordings indicate that the pilots have apparently been unconscious," Henttu told Yle, adding that the descent was arrested a couple of times.

Henttu says that the situation sounds exceptional, and not typical of a regular accident. According to Henttu, the flight behaviour suggests that the pilots were only conscious intermittently.

"Either autopilot had been engaged at some point and left there, or the pilots have been momentarily conscious and taken some action to maintain altitude," said Henttu. 

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