The co-pilot of the Germanwings plane that crashed into the French Alps on Tuesday appeared to want to “destroy the plane”, French officials said.
Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin, citing information from the “black box” voice recorder, said the co-pilot was alone in the cockpit.
He intentionally started a descent while the pilot was locked out.
Mr Robin said there was “absolute silence in the cockpit” as the pilot fought to re-enter it.
The co-pilot, now named as Andreas Lubitz, was alive until the final impact, the prosecutors added.
“We hear the pilot ask the co-pilot to take control of the plane and we hear at the same time the sound of a seat moving backwards and the sound of a door closing,” Mr Robin told reporters.
“At that moment, the co-pilot is controlling the plane by himself. While he is alone, the co-pilot presses the buttons of the flight monitoring system to put into action the descent of the aeroplane.
“This action on the altitude controls can only be deliberate.”
The Airbus 320 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf hit a mountain, killing 150 people, after an eight-minute descent.
The pilot is heard on the voice recorder first first knocking gently on the door, then progressively louder, then trying to bang down the door to try to get back into the cockpit. The prosecutor said co-pilot had to affirmatively hit a button to keep the pilot out.
The prosecutor noted that passengers didn’t realize until the last minute on the recorder and that you can hear them screaming at the end of the recording. They heard the co-pilot’s normal breathing at the time of impact so they know he was alive.
The co-pilot’s Facebook has been removed but nothing is initially apparent in the cached page remaining. Lubitz, 28, had previously been recognized in the FAA Airmen Certification Database.
The prosecutor said that they have no reason to believe that terrorism is involved and that Lubitz was not a known terrorist.
Nothing in the background (so far) that would seem to indicate anything untoward.
Via NY Post:
The Germanwings co-pilot at the controls of the doomed jet had wanted to fly since childhood, according to friends and neighbors.
Andreas Lubitz, 28, grew up in the small town of Montabaur, Germany, and had been a member of the flying club Luftsportclub Westerwal since his teen years.
“Andreas became a member of the association as a teenager, he wanted to realize his dream of flying. He began as a gliding student and made it to become a pilot on an Airbus 320,” according to a statement from the club.
Club member Peter Ruecker said he didn’t sense Lubitz was suffering from any emotional or psychological problems.
“He was happy he had a job with Germanwings and he was doing well,” Ruecker said.
A Montabaur neighbor of Lubitz’s said he was always friendly, pursued his dreams with “vigor” and enjoyed running.
“How often we saw him jogging past our house,” a neighbor told local newspaper the Rhein Zeitung.
Lubitz split time between his parents’ place in Montabaur and kept an apartment in Duesseldorf, where he often ran in local races, according to AFP and German news agency DPA.
Lubitz’s Facebook page was scrubbed shortly after he was identified. It included a picture of him sitting near the Golden Gate Bridge near San Francisco and a shot of Times Square.
His “likes” included a Lufthansa-sponsored half-marathon and a local climbing wall.
The co-pilot also appeared to be a fan of electronic music, following German artists Schiller and Paul Kalkbrenner and French DJ David Guetta, according to his Facebook page.
Responding to revelations, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said all pilots undergo annual medical checks, but not special psychiatric assessments beyond training.
He added: ‘He passed all medical exams, all checks. He was 100 per cent fit to fly without any restrictions.
‘I am not a lawyer. I am the CEO of a big company. If one person takes 149 people with him to death, it is not suicide.’
However, it emerged today that Lubitz had to stop his pilot training in 2008 because he was depressed and suffering ‘burnout’.
A schoolmate told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he had taken a break because of depression.
The woman said: ‘Apparently he had burnout, he was in depression.’….
In Montabaur, acquaintances today said Lubitz showed no signs of depression when they saw him last autumn when he renewed his glider pilot’s license.
‘He was happy he had the job with Germanwings and he was doing well,’ said a member of the glider club, Peter Ruecker, who watched Lubitz learn to fly.
‘He gave off a good feeling.’