The system failed. It happens, even in Germany

From today’s New York Times:

BERLIN — Even in the nightmarish immediate aftermath of the plane crash in the French Alps on Tuesday, Carsten Spohr, the former pilot who runs Germany’s Lufthansa airline, was sure of one thing: the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, 27, was “100 percent” fit to fly.

Mr. Lubitz, after all, had been through the widely respected Lufthansa training system — “one of the best in the world,” Mr. Spohr said — and had met all other requirements to fly commercial aircraft.

In the decades since it emerged from the ruins of Nazism, this country — which reunited in 1990 and in recent years has dominated Europe as its economic powerhouse — has come to define itself as orderly, rule-driven and well-engineered. It is an identity that is both an antidote to its past and a blueprint for economic success. From Mercedes-Benz cars — “the best,” says a current ad campaign — to its countless tidy towns, Germany purrs excellence.

Now Mr. Lubitz — born and raised in one of those pretty towns — has upended that well-ordered world and challenged other assumptions built into German life. As Mr. Spohr noted, the co-pilot’s terrifying deed was a singular, perhaps unstoppable disaster. Yet somehow the system failed.

Sure, it did. Systems do. Even in Germany.