French prosecutor: Germanwings co-pilot alone in cockpit, wanted to “destroy this plane”

Victims likely realized at last moment

As a frantic pilot pounded on the cockpit door and passengers screamed in panic, the Germanwings co-pilot “intentionally” sent Flight 9525 straight into the side of a mountain in the French Alps, a prosecutor said Thursday.

In a news conference in Paris, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin laid out the horrifying conclusions reached by French aviation investigators after listening to the last minutes of the Tuesday morning flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf. The Airbus A320 began to descend from cruising altitude after losing radio contact with ground control and slammed into the remote mountain, killing all 150 people on board.

It was the co-pilot’s “intention to destroy this plane,” Robin said.

He said the pilot, who has not been identified, left the cockpit, presumably to go to the lavatory, and then was unable to regain access. In the meantime, co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, a 28-year-old German, manually and “intentionally” set the plane on the descent that drove it into the mountain.

Robin said the commander of the plane knocked several times “without response.” He said the door could only be blocked manually.

He said the co-pilot’s responses, initially courteous, became “curt” when the captain began the mid-flight briefing on the planned landing.

The information was pulled from the black box cockpit voice recorder, but Robin said the co-pilot did not say a word after the commanding pilot left the cockpit.

“It was absolute silence in the cockpit,” he said.

During the final minutes of the flight’s descent, pounding could be heard on the cockpit door as plane alarms sounded but the co-pilot’s breathing was normal throughout the whole time, Robin said.

“It’s obvious this co-pilot took advantage of the commander’s absence. Could he have known he would leave? It is too early to say,” he said.

He said Lubitz had never been flagged as a terrorist and would not give details on his religion or ethnic background. He said German authorities were taking charge of the investigation into Lubitz.

Robin said just before the plane hit the mountain, the sounds of passengers screaming could be heard on the audio.

“I think the victims realized just at the last moment, ” he said.

The families of victims were briefed about the shocking conclusions just ahead of the announcement.

“The victims deserve explanations from the prosecutor,” Robin said. “(But) they have having a hard time believing it.”

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P.
Transcontinental Media G.P.