A structural failure would have at least some part of the plane detach itself at some point and make it to the ground.Control or systems failure would
be more indicative (my big word for today ) of the crater and small pieces of wreckage.RIP
At this point though we don't know if something, such as a trim tab or part of the elevator, came off prior to the impact site. They're going to be
looking around the area for several days. It more than likely was a control failure, but something coming off is not out of the realm of possibility
at this point yet.
There may even have been nothing wrong with the aircraft itself. I'm reminded here of RAF Voyager tanker ZZ333 which went into a sudden dive, reported
to be so severe that passengers in the cabin experienced weightlessness. Fortunately, after losing many thousands of feet altitude, the cause was
found to be the pilots DSLR camera getting wedged behind the side stick and he was able to knock it out and recover the aircraft.
The FDR and CVR of the Germanwings plane made it out in a usable condition, so I would expect at least one of them to be usable; it takes a lot of
force to render them unusable. Even if they are, accident investigators (such as those of the NTSB, the AAIB etc,)seem to be damn good at putting the
pieces together to come out with something useful, so long as we're not talking about EgyptAir 990.
Investigators have said it will take several weeks to determine what, if any, information can be recovered from the aircraft recorders. Both have been
recovered, but were in pieces as a result of the crash. The CVR was found with the memory modules detached, while the FDR was found somewhat intact.
Investigators have revealed four spurious inputs on the data recorder two seconds before the autopilot disengaged and the captain reacted with
surprise. The aircraft subsequently went into a nose down attitude.
One of the inputs showed a sudden 15 degree nose up attitude, but it has been said that is not consistent with the aircrafts reaction.
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