Ethics and Sincerity at Lufthansa: The Tragedy of Flight 9525

Full disclosure: I was laid off from a Lufthansa affiliate 2 years ago. Over almost 25 years of travelling to Europe I have flown nearly every major airline. I returned most often to Lufthansa as my carrier of choice. I do not work for Lufthansa any longer. This is not a commercial for Lufthansa. It is an attempt to define a bit of clarity amid a terrible tragedy.

We live in a litigious age, an age of PR spin and plausible deniability, where ethics are massaged and honesty is a distant consideration. Perhaps because of all that, or even in spite of it is why Lufthansa Chief executive, Carsten Spohr’s moral and ethical clarity in the wake of the Germanwings tragedy is so extraordinary. It now seems apparent that the loss in March 2015 of Flight 9525, with a loss of all on board was no accident. The flight was operated by an affiliate of Lufthansa. It now seems apparent that a young co-pilot suffering from severe depression intentionally crashed the plane. Whether the tragedy could have been debated is likely to long be the subject of debate

Immediately following the crash I wrote an article calling for cockpit image recorders. The intention is to take a longer view and too be a counterbalance to a reactionary mainstream Press. Always accusatory, and prone to sowing hysteria, that Press regularly drops stories as quickly as pre-school children lose interest in one toy over another. Rarely is there ever any usable information or a focused perspective.

The revelation that the Germanwings co-pilot, trained by Lufthansa, was known to suffer from clinical depression offered that Press ample fodder. Lost is a human perspective that reminds how nearly all of us will suffer depression in our lives, either due to the loss of a loved one, an accident or perhaps a severe illness. Many will struggle with that depression long term. A subset will endure clinical depression to varying degrees of severity their entire lives. A very few will become lost, as apparently this copilot did, in the psychological maze of deep biological depression. I have heard depression described as the inability to recognize choices, and an impediment to recognizing hope. That, it seems, was underscored only too painfully aboard that ill-fated flight.

That might have begun an inward looking public relations damage control effort by Lufthansa. The victim’s families might have been further insulted with corporatized insincerity, carefully manicured statements and non-apology apologies. Instead, Herr Spohr dared sincerity and honesty where one might have expected and others might have encouraged propaganda.

“This is the worst possible time,” Spohr told reporters, “the worst possible moment, the darkest chapter in the history in our airline. And yet we have full confidence in our pilots, so this is totally incomprehensible… “It appears to be true that the colleague left in the cockpit, the co-pilot, denied him access to the cockpit to initiate the deadly descent into the French Alps.”

The financial cost of this horrible incident is and must be secondary to the pain and anguish of all those who lost loved ones. There is ample opportunity for plausible deniability here. From a PR standpoint it would have been relatively simple to blame Germanwings. I do recall a story about tainted Coca-a-cola in Europe some years back. The local manager, and American, miscalculated European sensitivities in trying to make the situation right by offering every European a Coke. Perceived as a smug response by Europeans, sales of Coke plummeted. Spohr’s deliberate sincerity, however, was more than European in sensibility, but rather human in sensitivity.

As a company, Lufthansa has so far faced this tragedy with contrition. It will and must be a painful process. That pain pales in comparison to the victim’s families. But we should acknowledge that facing it squarely and honestly, as Spohr has done is the moral and decent thing to do. Sad, that when we are challenged so desperately, that sort of moral clarity has become the exception rather than the rule.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

Use Facebook to Comment on this Post