Germanwings Plane Crash: What We Know About Alps Tragedy

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Here's what we know so far about the crash of a jetliner in the French Alps on Tuesday:

FLIGHT: Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed on Tuesday near the town of Digne, in southern France. It was was en route to Dusseldorf, Germany, from Barcelona.

PASSENGERS: There were 150 people on board, 144 passengers and a six-person crew. Authorities do not believe that anyone survived, President Francois Hollande said. At least 67 passengers were from Germany, and 45 were from Spain.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said it is likely British nationals were on board the plane.

Two opera singers, contralto Maria Radner and bass baritone Oleg Bryjak, were on the plane, Barcleona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house said in a statement. Radner's husband and baby were also on board, The Associated Press reported. Both singers recently performed in Siegfried at the Gran Teatre, the opera house said.

Marina Bandres, a native of the small Spanish town of Jaca, and her baby boy were on the plane, Jaca Mayor Victor Barrio told the AP. Two Australian citizens, a mother and her adult son from Victoria, were on board, Australia's foreign minister said.

CHILDREN: On board were 16 students and two teachers from a German school who were returning from Spain after a 10th-grade exchange program. Two babies were also on board, according to the airline.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

CRASH SITE: The remote and rugged terrain of the crash site complicated recovery efforts. A local lawmaker told The Associated Press that “everything is pulverized.”

MYSTERY: There was no early indication of what caused the crash. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany urged people not to speculate until an investigation is conducted. French air disaster investigators are regarded as among the best in the world.

NO DISTRESS CALL: The plane did not send a distress signal, the aviation ministry of France said. Initial reports about a distress call were conflicting.

BLACK BOXES: A spokesman for the French Interior Ministry said that one of the plane’s black boxes was found. It was not clear whether it was the flight data recorder or the cockpit voice recorder.

TIMING: Germanwings said that the plane took off at 10:01 a.m. local time, reached its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet at 10:44, and began descending one minute later. It descended for eight minutes, the airline said. It crashed in the Alps at about 6,500 feet. French radar lost contact at 10:53. Flight Radar 24, which tracks air traffic, said that the descent began at 10:31, with last contact at 10:40.

PLANE MODEL: The plane was an Airbus A320, one of the most popular models in the world. The A320 has a strong safety record. More than 6,000 planes of the A320 family are in service worldwide.

AIRCRAFT: The aircraft that crashed on Tuesday had been in service since 1991. The age of 24 years is not out of the ordinary for the A320. The aircraft had logged about 58,000 hours in the air over 46,000 flights.

PILOT: The pilot of the plane had logged more than 6,000 hours flying the A320, the airline said.

TERROR: A spokeswoman for the National Security Council said that there was “no indication” of a connection to terrorism. President Barack Obama was briefed on the crash, and U.S. officials offered help to the French, German and Spanish authorities.

WEATHER: Weather did not immediately appear to be a factor. Conditions were favorable.

HISTORY: It was the first major plane crash in France since July 2000, when a Concorde crashed, killing 109 people on the plane and four on the ground.


— Erin McClam