The co-pilot of the Germanwings aircraft that crashed into the Fresh Alps on Tuesday appears to have deliberately caused the disaster after barricading himself alone in the cockpit, French prosecutors said on Thursday.
A study of the cockpit voice recorder suggests that the co-pilot, a 27-year-old German national named Andreas Lubitz, intentionally started a descent while the pilot was locked out, officials said.
They offered no motive for Lubitz’s suspected action, which killed all 150 people on board including himself, Reuters reported.
Lubitz acted “for a reason we cannot fathom right now but which looks like intent to destroy this aircraft”, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin was quoted as saying.
Setting the plane’s controls for rapid descent was an act that “could only have been voluntary”, Robin said.
“He had… no reason to stop the pilot-in-command from coming back into the cockpit. He had no reason to refuse to answer to the air controller who was alerting him on the loss of altitude.”
The captain, who had stepped out of the cockpit, probably to use the toilet, could be heard on flight recordings trying to force his way back in.
“You can hear banging to try to smash the door down,” Robin said.
Most of the passengers would not have been aware of their fate until the very end, the official said.
Lubitz joined Germanwings, a budget carrier unit of Lufthansa, in September 2013. He had just 630 hours of flying time, compared with the 6,000 hours of the flight captain.
Following the stunning revelations, German police searched Lubitz’s home as the investigation took a new course.
Meanwhile, several airlines responded by immediately changing their rules to require a second crew member to be in the cockpit at all times.
That is already compulsory in the United States but not in Europe.
EasyJet, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Air Berlin were among other carriers that swiftly announced such policies, the report said.
Lufthansa, whose CEO initially said he believed such measure was unnecessary, later remarked that the group will discuss it with others in the industry.
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