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Germanwings Investigation; Unfit for Work; Cockpit Door Switch; Amanda Knox Ruling. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 27, 2015 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:07] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. And you are watching special breaking news coverage of the downing of Germanwings Flight 9525 as the world on this Friday is still reeling from the news that investigators believe it was that co-pilot who deliberately took down this plane, killing himself and everyone on board. Today, another shocking development. Here's what we know.

Medical documents showing there was something wrong with this 27-year- old co-pilot, a man by the name of Andreas Lubitz, and confirmation that he knew something was wrong. Police raiding Lubitz's flat in Dusseldorf, Germany, making a disturbing discovery.


CHRISTOPH KUMPA, DUSSELDORF, GERMAN PUBLIC PROSECUTOR: We have found a letter that indicated that he was declared by a medical doctor unfit to work that were found slashed (ph) in a dust bin. So we have reason to believe that he hid his illness from the company he was working for.


BALDWIN: Just in case you couldn't hear the prosecutor clearly, let me just repeat. They found a note from a doctor, not just thrown away in this guy's apartment trash can, ripped up, thrown away in the trash can, stating that this co-pilot was quote/unquote "unfit to work" on a number of days, including Tuesday. Tuesday was the very day Lubitz apparently decided to lock his captain out of the cockpit and silently steer this Airbus A-320 into the southern French Alps. A move that now seems to have been predetermined.

New data revealing that minutes before this crash, the plane's auto pilot was manually reset from that cruising altitude way up above at 38,000 feet to just 100 feet. That is the lowest possible setting.

We do have our CNN reporters fanned out all across the world, from the crash site itself to the American flight center where this co-pilot apparently spent some time training. But first, Will Ripley, let you go to you, who is at this co-pilot's apartment in Dusseldorf, Germany.

And, Will, a lot of questions, first being, you know, investigators aren't saying specifically what this co-pilot's medical condition was, but we are getting some information from this medical center, from this hospital, that treated him, it looks like not just once but twice recently. What are they saying? WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the university medical center

here, Brooke, is saying that they saw Lubitz as a patient in February. And then again he came back on March 10th and that's when he received a diagnoses. So we know that he was receiving treatment at least since February, got the diagnosis.

And the medical center made a point, Brooke, to say that they were not treating him for depression. There have been a lot of news reports locally here and around the world speculating that depression may have been the cause of this. And the medical center point blank said that's not the case.

However, when you look at the pictures of this young man, like this one here in the paper, Andreas Lubitz, 27 years old, here you see him running a marathon. Clearly this is a young man who, by all accounts, was in good shape. There are running trails. There's a lake near his apartment. And yet there was something wrong. And neighbors and business owners in this area who have interacted with him also tell us this comes as an utter shock to them.


RIPLEY: When you saw his face in the newspaper and on television, what was your reaction?

ERHARD DICKS, SHOE COBBLER (through translator): We recognized him immediately, my boss and I. He seemed quite normal. We're all speechless.


RIPLEY: Also, Brooke, in the apartment here where I'm standing, investigators say while they found that ripped up note, a medical note excusing him from work on the day of the tragedy, they found no other indication, no indication of any political views or no good-bye note. No other clues as to what may have prompted this, Brooke.

BALDWIN: So the ripped up note declaring him unfit to fly in his waste bin and no suicide note as of yet. Will Ripley, thank you very much, in Germany.

Obviously multiple and massive developments today raising a lot of questions. So let me just bring in our experts. Dr. Randy Knipping, an aviation medical examiner, and with Transport Canada and the U.S. FAA, he's a cognitive behavioral psycho therapist focusing on stress reduction, anxiety, depression in pilots. And also with me we have Fred Tecce, commercial pilot, former federal prosecutor and IP attorney.

So to both of you, welcome.

And, you know, a lot of new information today so -

DR. RANDY KNIPPING, PHYSICIAN : Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: So, Fred, let me just begin with you here. You know, if you were a pilot and you were declared by a medical professional - and we know at least it wasn't depression, at least at this one particular hospital that he was being treated for - but you're being deemed unfit to fly. What are possible conditions that would fall under that heading?

[14:05:10] FRED TECCE, COMMERCIAL PILOT: Well, there's a number of conditions. And under the FAA regulations, which bind all of us irrespective of whether you're a commercial pilot or a private pilot or an airline transport pilot, you have an obligation to alert the FAA of medical conditions of which you are aware that would affect your ability to safely conduct an airplane. And for years it was the deal in the United States that if you were a pilot and you took either anti-depressants or even ADD medications, you had to surrender your medical certificate. They don't take your license, but you have to surrender your medical, and then you cannot fly. So in the U.S., it's a little different.

BALDWIN: So, Dr. Knipping, let me just - let's be more specific. Could it be anything from learning that, you know, you have lung cancer to much smaller medical diagnosis, to anything in between? Does a lot fall under the unfit to fly category?

KNIPPING: Sure. I mean we categorize a lot of the health problems by organ systems. But in this particular case, we don't know exactly what this co-pilot was suffering from. But relationship difficulties, alcohol, drugs, stress, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression. There's a wide range of mental health issues that can affect the performance of a pilot. But it all depends upon the pilot's willingness to disclose symptoms and signs to a health care professional and to the health care professional themselves to be able to evaluate a pilot who's in difficulty.

BALDWIN: That's the thing and, Fred, you know, as a pilot, it is - it is your responsibility to disclose this information to your employer, to your airline, thus, obviously, the risk is you're grounded, you're not getting paid for flying planes. And I'm wondering if a lot of pilots, captains, co-pilots, tend to keep this kind of medical information to him or herself because you want to continue working?

TECCE: Well, you know, you hit a good point. I mean it's - as a pilot, you know, you're loathed to tell the FAA about any of these things. And, you know, interestingly enough, the United States Navy did a study a couple of years ago where they effected - where they looked at things that affect your ability to fly an aircraft. And it was good things as well. You know, being married, having a baby, all these things actually adversely affected your abilities to perform in the cockpit. So the rules require you to do this.

You know, for guys like me who fly around (ph), you know, if you don't report this kind of thing and ultimately you'll lose your insurance. I mean, you know, you can lose your job. I mean so there are penalties for not complying. But you - but, you know, the problem is, the motivation to comply can be a little bit murky sometimes.

BALDWIN: And I also - you know, listen, we have HIPAA here in the United States where, you know, I can go to a doctor and my condition isn't divulged to, let's say, my place of employment. But I am wondering, Dr. Knipping, for you, if I'm a co-pilot, you know, I have 149 people on board my plane who I would see as being responsible for. I go to a doctor. The doctor says, you're unfit to fly. I go home, chunk that note in my trash bin because I want to keep working and getting paid. How is it that the medical professionals don't report something to the airline to let them know, I've just seen a patient that shouldn't be piloting an aircraft?

KNIPPING: Yes, definitely it's not - it's not a perfect system because it depends upon the pilot's willingness to disclose. And as Ted (ph) was mentioning, you know, it's very difficult if your career is on the line. You're going to tend to withhold and conceal your feelings and thoughts, what's going on in your life.

BALDWIN: Of course you are.

KNIPPING: And, you know, and I think it comes down to a question of the kind of relationship that the pilot or co-pilot would have with their flight surgeon, with their doctors. You know, in Canada and in the U.S. and, in fact, the International Civil Aviation Organization has regulations for all signatories to the ICAO documents to disclose to the flight surgeon and to the regulatory agencies when there is a deficit in performance.

But it comes down to a relationship. You know, if you have a problem with your heart, I can do an electrocardiogram and that can be helpful because, you know, you can't withhold electrical information from your heart. But when it comes to the mind, it comes down to the relationship that that pilot has and the willingness of the pilot even to disclose whether they're a pilot to the physician that's seeing them. So there's a lot of difficulty in making this an easy area to evaluate pilots and to manage them.

BALDWIN: Sounds like it. Fred Tecce and Randy Knipping, thank you both very much.

Coming up next -

KNIPPING: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: You got it.

Coming up next, we will take you inside the cockpit simulator to show you what this co-pilot apparently did in those final moments to keep everyone, including that captain, out.

Plus, why did he interrupt his training to become a pilot? CNN is live outside an American training facility that he attend.

[14:10:02] And any moment now Amanda Knox will learn whether the courts there in Italy will find her guilty again of murdering her British roommate during that drug-fueled, sex game. Will Italy try and force her back?

You're watching CNN's special live coverage. Stay right here.


BALDWIN: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The German Pilot's Association is warning against, quote, "rushing to conclusions" after French prosecutors announce that it's 27-year-old co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, deliberately crashed Germanwings Flight 9525. One of the most damning clues here, not the lock on the cockpit door, actually, but the switch that activates that lock. CNN's Kyung Lah is on board a flight simulator to explain.


KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The switch is surprisingly simple and exists in the cockpit of every single commercial plane that's flying around the world.

LAH (voice-over): He cannot imagine why a pilot would do this, but Bugs Forsyth (ph) knows how. A retired military and commercial pilot, Forsyth says he's flown thousands of hours in the A-320 cockpit, one of the safest high-tech passenger jets used around the world.


LAH: He, like all pilots, has used the switch hundreds of times.

FORSYTH: The unlock you have to pull up and hold it. A light comes on and says the door is open. But if I release it, it goes back to normal position.

LAH (on camera): Norm means that it's locked?

FORSYTH: The norm is locked, that's correct.

LAH (voice-over): According to an Airbus operations video, there's a key pad entry on the outside that allows entry if you know the code. But if the person inside the cockpit switches it to lock, the keypad won't work for five minutes. And there's another override that goes beyond five minutes.

FORSYTH: I can also override the key pad and hold it in the locked position. And now he cannot use the key pad or enter the door at all. It is locked.

LAH (on camera): No one can get in?

FORSYTH: No one can get in.

LAH: So to keep your co-pilot out, what do you have to do?

FORSYTH: To keep him out - if he knew the keyboard pad number to get in, I just hold the lock. He cannot get in.

LAH: So can you manually fly this and hold the lock button?

FORSYTH: Oh, yes, easy. LAH: But then that's a very purposeful act?

FORSYTH: Very much so. Very much so.


LAH (voice-over): Again and again. we fly through the scenarios in auto pilot and manual. Both managed to crash the plane and both had to be deliberately programmed or flown into the ground.

LAH (on camera): What does that suggest to you as far as his determination?

FORSYTH: That he was very determined. Yes, that was his goal and he had a mission or a goal to kill himself and everybody on board. We deal with terrorists and people that aren't supposed to be in the cockpit. This person's supposed to be in the cockpit. That's what's scary.

LAH: So we now know how, the mechanics of it. But the question of why is what is so hard to understand.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Las Vegas.


BALDWIN: Kyung, thank you so much.

And I just want to talk a little bit more about this cockpit because we do have this photo. This is actually the actual cockpit from this Germanwings Flight 9525. This was taken by this airplane enthusiast. This was a plane he actually was on the Sunday before this crash.

So first joining me now, CNN Money's Cristina Alesci. And back with me, Fred Tecce, commercial pilot and federal prosecutor of fatal jet incidents.

So, Cristina, first to you. You know, a lot of - a lot of people have been tweeting us all kinds of questions and one of the big questions is about why didn't Lufthansa, why didn't Germanwings have this two person cockpit rule, which, by the way, changed today?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. There are a lot more airlines that have this protocol today than 48 hours ago. And that is because there was no requirement under European safety procedures to have this protocol in place. Now, here in the U.S., we do have it in place. So the question is, why didn't the Europeans? And the simple answer is that there is no one body of European aviation that a really has any teeth to enforce any kind of uniformed protocols across countries. So this has been a big issue for a number of years.

And now we have the German aviation authorities coming out and saying that all German airlines have to have two people in the cockpit at all times. The Canadian interior minister said the same thing for all airlines in that country. And the U.K. authorities are now saying, hey, airlines in our country are going to reevaluate this procedure. One of the reasons the U.S. may have been a little bit more stringent

on this front is because 9/11 had such a big impact psychologically.


ALESCI: And it really - the U.S. really led the way with these really forceful protections when it came to the cockpit. So there was a lot of thought given to, OK, what are the fail safes? What are the alternatives to get into the cockpit? And that may have been why the U.S. was a little bit more thoughtful about a back-up to getting into the cockpit.

BALDWIN: OK. So - and this - just interestingly, we also - one of our CNN employees actually was on a Germanwings flight this morning and reported hearing the, you know, captain actually come over the loud speaker, just sort of assuring all the passengers on the plane, you know, listen, we - I want you to know, we will always have now two people in the cockpit.

Fred, here's what we're hearing, though, from people who are poking holes a little bit in this because even if you have, let's say in this instance, the pilot left the cockpit and under U.S. regulations, and now even Lufthansa, let's say you have a crew member who is part of this two-person mandatory rule, has to sit in the cockpit with this co-pilot. If you have a co-pilot that is intent on taking a plane down, who's to say that the co-pilot wouldn't just, you know, take the flight attendant, the second person, out of the equation?

TECCE: Correct. I mean that's always been the counter argument that someone who's - who is committed to doing harm, the first fatality would be the person who's in the cockpit with them. Although, you know, it's interesting, I floated that to a couple of friends of mine who are pilots for major airlines and their response was, well, they're not there to stop them, they're actually there to open the door to let other people come in and help them.

[14:20:10] BALDWIN: How interesting.

TECCE: And then in the U.S., interestingly, after the Egypt Air Flight 990, Southwest Airlines adopted a policy where they would never allow one person to be in the cockpit for just that reason. And then as your reporter indicated, after 9/11, the FAA bought - you know, made it a rule that you can never have more than one person in the cockpit. So the idea is, you know, it's not guaranteed if you have two people up there that you're going to be able to stop it, but it's another level of protection. And when you're a pilot, you always want another level of safety.

BALDWIN: To know that if you need to get that door open, you can. Fred Tecce, thank you. Cristina Alesci, thank you so much.

TECCE: Thank you kindly.

BALDWIN: Any moment now, just a heads up to all of you, Amanda Knox soon will be learning her fate, what this Italian court, the highest court, has decided as to whether or not they will be upholding that murder conviction in the death of her roommate. In that case, could she be extradited? Could she be forced to go back to Italy? We'll discuss that next.

Also, we are live outside this training facility where this 27-year- old co-pilot had his training. Why he took a break in the middle of his training and what investigator have to say about that. Stay with me.


[14:25:25] BALDWIN: We will take you back to our breaking news on Flight 9525 in just a moment.

But first, we have to talk about Amanda Knox. Amanda Knox, the American who was convicted, then acquitted again in that Italian court of murdering her roommate during that drug-fueled sex game. Her fate now hangs in the balance again. We could learn any moment whether Italy's high court will uphold her conviction and require that she return to the country to serve a 28.5 year sentence. Knox, by the way, who's back in the states, living in Seattle, has vowed never to willingly return. She talked to "New Day's" Chris Cuomo, saying that she will definitely fight.


CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN'S "NEW DAY": You will appeal?


CUOMO: You will stay here in the United States for the pendency (ph) of the appeal?

KNOX: Yes.

CUOMO: What happens if the supreme court confirm this ruling and the case is closed and you are guilty?

KNOX: You know, from this whole experience, especially in prison where you have to take everything day by day, right now I'm having to take everything step by step. And if I think about everything that I could possibly be facing, it's way too overwhelming for me to even conceive.


BALDWIN: CNN's senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin joins me.

I mean, Jeff, she told someone else, if they tried to extradite her, she would - they would have to pull her back kicking and screaming to prison. So here's my question to you. You know, what are the odds? Let's say this high court in Italy upholds the conviction. Ultimately it's the State Department, correct, who would have to approve the extradition. What are the chances the State Department would even do that?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, for starters, it's the State Department. But extradition can get very complicated. I mean the answer is, I think the odds may be fairly good that the State Department would order extradition. Remember, the State Department is concerned with international relations.


TOOBIN: And one of the issues they're always concerned about is, will we get reciprocity? Will Italy continue to cooperate with us when we want prisoners back from Italy? The other issue is that murder is clearly an extraditable offense.

Now, there are legal arguments available to Amanda Knox. And one of them is that this would amount to double jeopardy. That because of the way the Italian courts are structured, she has been tried twice for the same crime and that's something that's prohibited under the treaty. So she does have that legal argument, but it's not an easy one.

BALDWIN: So, OK, then let's take it a step further. If, you know, just to, obviously, try to make good because of, you know, international policies, et cetera, if there's an American in Italy and the State Department, OK, you know, approves this, then what would happen? Would somebody come banging on Amanda Knox's door in Seattle and say, we are taking you kicking and screaming back to Italy?

TOOBIN: Not - not at first. What then she would - these orders are not appealable. You can't go to court directly to challenge an extradition order. However, you can file what's called a rite of habeas corpus and a federal district judge might order a stay while he or she weighs Amanda Knox's challenge. But ultimately there is the possibility that a - that a police officer will knock on her door and take her away because if an extradition order is upheld, that's like an arrest warrant. That is something that authorizes the U.S. government to take you by force if necessary from one country to another. So that's what - that's what the stakes are here.

BALDWIN: We're waiting for the heads up from the high court in Italy. As soon as we get the news as to whether or not they're going to - they're going to uphold that conviction, we'll talk again, Mr. Toobin.

TOOBIN: All right.

BALDWIN: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so, so much.

More other breaking news here. CNN is live outside of the American trainer center where this German co-pilot, this 27-year-old of this Flight 9525, where he learned to fly. But one of the questions we're asking is, why was there this big interruption amidst his training in becoming a pilot?

Also ahead, as investigators are busy searching his home, is there anything to the fact that his doctor's note that deemed him unfit to fly was ripped up and found in his apartment wastebasket?

You're watching CNN's special live coverage. A lot to talk about today. Stay right here.