It's hard to think of any aspect of the airline industry that didn't change after September 11, 2001. We've had a huge uptick in airport security, but one thing you may not have known is that we stepped things up on airplanes themselves as well. Cockpit doors now lock from the inside. This is presumably so that the terrorists (and really annoying children) can't get in, but it has unfortunately already been used tragically.
It's hard to keep terror locked out when terror's the one doing the locking.
On March 24, 2015, the secretly suicidal co-pilot of a Germanwings A320, Andreas Lubitz, hijacked his own plane. He did so by convincing his copilot, Patrick Sonderheimer, to go to the bathroom (which must have been a great conversation) and utilizing this locking cockpit. Sonderheimer attempted to break open the thick, bulletproof door while screaming "Open the damn door!" to no avail. Lubitz instead put the plane into a descent and crashed it into the French Alps, instantly killing everyone and himself, just as planned.
Where this gets chilling is that about two months prior to this incident, a fellow pilot named Jan Cochret had a public premonition that the well-intentioned security system could ultimately prove worse for the pilot than any bad guy. In a column for Piloot En Vliegtuig (Pilot And Plane) magazine, Cochret openly worried that the wrong copilot could exploit the system and doom himself and his passengers some day. As he put it, "I seriously wonder who's sitting next to me ... I hope I never find myself in the situation where I go to the toilet and return to find a cockpit door that won't open."
Piloot En Vliegtuig
Even if you had just taken a shit, if this happens, trust us: You're shitting your pants.
He couldn't have been more right on the money if he were on the plane itself. But while many of us would react to discovering mutant psychic abilities by hitting the casino, buying a lottery ticket, or putting all our money on the right bobtail nag, Cochret merely expressed sadness. As he wrote on his Facebook page, "Inmiddels is duidelijk dat dit verschrikkelijke verhaal werkelijkheid geworden is." Facebook's auto-translate changes that to "Today it is clear that this terrible story reality is" which, after doing Facebook's job for it, basically says "I was right, but goddammit, I didn't want to be."
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