Alps Crash: Airbus co-pilot ‘wanted to destroy’ plane
Black box reveals he pressed descent button
CO-PILOT Andreas Lubitz was accused last night of having appeared to want to destroy the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps.
Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said that information gained from the black-box voice recorder had established that Mr Lubitz had been alone in the cockpit when the plane began its fatal descent.
Mr Robin said that the plane’s captain had been locked out of the cockpit and that “absolute silence” had greeted his feverish attempts to regain entry.
Air-traffic controllers had similarly failed in attempts to contact the cockpit, while passengers, aware of the rapid loss of altitude, were heard screaming prior to the crash.
The Airbus 320 from Barcelona to Du sseldorf hit a mountain on Tuesday, killing all 144 passsengers and six crew.
Mr Lubitz had undergone intensive training, had 630 hours of flying time and “was 100 per cent fit to fly without any caveats,” said Carsten Spohr, the head of Germanwings parent company Lufthansa.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel commented that the co-pilot’s apparent actions had given the tragedy a “new, simply incomprehensible dimension.”
Mr Robin gave further details from the black box, saying: “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.”
He said that the captain had probably gone to the toilet.
“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.
“He operated this button for a reason we don’t know yet, but it appears that the reason was to destroy this plane.”
Mr Robin said that “the most plausible interpretation” was that Mr Lubitz had deliberately barred the pilot from re-entering the cockpit.
He added that the co-pilot was “not known by us” to have links to extremism or terrorism.
Mr Robin refused to give details of the co-pilot’s religion. He said: “I don’t think it’s necessarily what we should be looking for.”
by Our Foreign Desk
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