Lufthansa is grappling with the public fallout from a December 2010 near accident linked to fumes on a Germanwings Airbus A319. Germany’s accident investigation office BFU released a preliminary report into the case last month. The aircraft was on a scheduled flight from Vienna to Cologne/Bonn in severe winter weather and was delayed for several hours before departure because the airport was closed. The aircraft was deiced immediately before departure. There was no incident during cruise flight, but on final approach, the two pilots noticed an unusual odor in the cockpit. Just before the final turn on the extended runway center line and about 12 miles outbound from Runway 14L, the first officer complained that he was feeling severely sick. His arms and legs began to feel numb and he put on the oxygen mask. The captain experienced similar, albeit not as serious, symptoms and also put on the mask. He said he was seriously limited in his ability to perform the routine landing preparation and unable to determine the cause of his condition. He told the first officer, who says he could neither follow nor comprehend what was happening, that he would land even though they had not completed all pre-landing duties upon passing the 1,000 ft. mark. He added that he did not feel fit to perform a go-around and attempt another approach.
After landing, the two pilots forgot to turn on the APU and retract the flaps, among other duties. They were then sent to a local hospital, where the first officer was found to have two unusual blood parameters. He was unfit to fly for six months following the incident.
Germanwings technicians checked the aircraft and noticed the odor in the cockpit. They identified it as deriving from deicing fluid and ruled out fuel. Engine checks did not reveal any unusual findings and the aircraft returned to service a day later.