Co-pilot 'deliberately' crashed Germanwings plane

PARIS - Audio from the mangled voice recorder of Germanwings Flight 9525 reveals the captain was locked out of the cockpit while the co-pilot appeared to make a deliberate attempt to destroy the plane, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said Thursday.

The co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings flight "activated the descent" of the plane when he was alone in the cockpit, Robin said. That can only be done deliberately, he said.

From what investigators have found, it seems the co-pilot "wanted to destroy the aircraft," the prosecutor said.

However, as of now, there's "nothing to allow us to say that it was a terrorist attack," he said.

Robin said the co-pilot was a German national and not on any terrorism list. He named him as Andreas Lubitz.

When a reporter asked Robin whether he knew Lubitz's religion, Robin said that he did not know.

The most plausible explanation of the crash is that the co-pilot "through deliberate abstention, refused to open the cabin door ... to the chief pilot, and used the button" to cause the plane to lose altitude, Robin said.

Screaming could be heard on the audio recording only in the last few minutes, and death was instantaneous for those on board, he said.

Robin said he was not thinking of the Germanwings crash as a suicide, explaining: "When you are responsible for 150 people, I don't call it a suicide."

Bodies won't be released yet

Robin said he did not know if the co-pilot planned his actions in advance, saying only that he "took advantage" of the pilot leaving the cockpit.

The co-pilot was "fully qualified to pilot the aircraft on his own," Robin added. The audio recording showed his breathing to be steady, with no sign that he had a heart attack or other medical issue.

He only had about 100 hours of experience on the type of aircraft he was flying, but he had all the necessary certifications and qualifications to pilot the aircraft alone, the prosecutor said.

The bodies of the Germanwings crash victims will not be released until all DNA identification work has been done -- a process likely to last several weeks, Robin said.

Robin said he had told the families of the crash victims all the same information he was telling reporters at the news conference.

The families of the two pilots are also in France but are not in the same place as the relatives, he said.

Robin emphasized that his conclusions were preliminary.

'Terribly shocking' revelation

The revelation about the cockpit audio was first reported by The New York Times and Agence France-Presse.

"You can hear he is trying to smash the door down," a senior military official involved in the investigation told The New York Times.

"We don't know yet the reason why one of the guys went out. But what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door."

AFP also reported that a pilot was locked out, citing a source close to the investigation.

Lufthansa, the parent company of low-cost airline Germanwings, said then it was looking into the reports.

"We have no information from the bodies investigating the incident that would corroborate the report in The New York Times," spokesman Boris Ogursky said. "We will not participate in speculation, but we will follow up on the matter."

The Times' report is a "terribly shocking revelation," CNN aviation analyst Peter Goelz said. But he and other experts cautioned that it's still unclear what could have been going on inside the cockpit.

Comments (2)

Being a German citizen does not mean he cannot be a terrorist??? Terror is terror no matter who terrorises who!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What this co-pilot did from what we are told is not only madness but shocking and inhuman.

Garikayi - 27 March 2015

The events leading to the crash of the plane clearly indicates a deliberate intention.Terrorism has no boundaries irregardless of nationality or religion.What need to be ascertained is why the chief pilot vacated the cockpit in the first place prior to the crash

Brighton Muponda - 27 March 2015

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