Germanwings co-pilot 'intentionally' crashed plane into mountain: Prosecutor

Germanwings Airbus A320 crash mystery took a murky turn on Thursady as French prosecutors blamed the co-pilot of the plane for the jet's rapid descent before the crash that killed all 150 aboard.

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Mar 26, 2015, 22:46 PM IST
Germanwings co-pilot 'intentionally' crashed plane into mountain: Prosecutor

Paris: Germanwings Airbus A320 crash mystery took a murky turn on Thursady as French prosecutors blamed the co-pilot of the plane for the jet's rapid descent before the crash that killed all 150 aboard.

According to French officials, the co-pilot of the Germanwings flight that crashed into the French Alps took sole control of plane and intentionally started the descent, the BBC reported.

The co-pilot was identified as 28-year-old German national named Andreas Lubitz, who was much less experienced than the pilot, had joined only in September 2013 and had only 630 hours of flight to his credit.

Meanwhile, Germany has ruled out any terror connection to the co-pilot.

Talking to the reporters, Germany`s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Thursday said that there was no indication that the 28-year-old German co-pilot had a terrorist background.

In the words of French Prosecutor Brice Robin, the co-pilot deliberately wanted to 'destroy' the plane. 

Speaking in a news conference in Marseille, the French prosecutor added that the co-pilot could be heard breathing throughout the plane’s descent and was alive at the point of impact.

Also heard in the 30-minute recording of the black box, were the screams of the passengers, who apparently came to know only in last few minutes that the plane was about to crash.

The French prosecutors concluded the co-pilot's role after a vital information tumbled out of the cockpit voice recorder that revealed that the pilot of the plane had gone out, reportedly to use the lavatory, but was unable to enter the cockpit as the co-pilot locked the door.

According to the investigators, recordings from one of the black boxes that was recovered just a day after the crash – the CVR – revealed that one of the pilots who left the cockpit could not get in back there and his frequent knocks on the locked door went unanswered till the plane crashed in the French Alps, reported the New York Times.

"The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer... And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer,” one of the investigators told the New York Times citing the information extracted out of the CVR.

“You can hear he is trying to smash the door down,” the investigator added.

However, it is not yet clear why one of the pilots may have gone out of the cockpit as according to the recordings, the conversation between the two pilots has been described as "cool" by one of the investigators.

French investigator Robin too talked about the conversation in first 20 minutes of the flight being normal, but did point out that the co-pilot's response was laconic as he spoke too less.

"For the first 20 minutes of the flight, the pilots spoke in a normal way, you could say cheerful and courteous, like normal. We heard the flight commander prepare the briefing for landing at Duesseldorf and the response of the co-pilot seemed laconic. Then we heard the commander ask the co-pilot to take the controls," he said.

"We heard at the same time the sound of a seat being pushed back and the sound of a door closing,” he said, adding that it was assumed that the captain at that point needed to use the lavatory.

The sensational piece of information comes as a remarkable twist in the Germanwings crash saga.

It is understood that weather conditions were apt when the plane plummeted rapidly for eight minutes before crashing into the mountainous terrain of the French Alps.

Also, experts have ruled out that the age of the airlines (which was delivered to Lufthansa in 1991 and was in service since last 24 years) may have anything to do with the crash.

Also, the pilot manning the plane are said to have been experienced enough to be attributed the blame of the crash. Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelman had earlier said that the pilot had more than 6,000 hours of flying experience.

However, the co-pilot was on job since Sep 2013 and had clocked just 630 hours of flying, Lufthansa told the AFP.

Lufthansa, the company that owns the budget carrier Germanwings, yesterday in a statement "We cannot comprehend how a technically flawless airplane steered by two experienced pilots could encounter such a situation at cruising altitude".

Lufthansa and Germanwings have reacted shockingly to the French prosecutors' statements about the co-pilot's role in the crash. 

"We have to accept that the plane was crashed on purpose," said Germanwings CEO. Lufthansa CEO too confirmed that the plane was intentionally brought down.

"We are shaken by the upsetting statements of the French authorities that the co-pilot said to have brought the aircraft down deliberately...Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all the relatives and friends of the victims," they said in a statement posted on Twitter.

 

Germanwings Airbus A320 plane carrying 150 - 144 passengers and six crew members on board - went off the radars on Monday morning before crashing in the French Alps.

The plane was flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf and carried people of different nationalities including German, French, Spanish, Turkish, British, Argentine,  Iranians, Venezuelans, Americans, the Dutch, Colombians, etc.