Germanwings Co-Pilot Began Descent 'Intentionally'

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was conscious until impact, says prosecutor
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2015 7:01 AM CDT
Updated Mar 26, 2015 7:58 AM CDT
Germanwings Co-Pilot Began Descent 'Intentionally'
A rescue worker climbs past debris at the plane crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France, Wednesday, March 25, 2015.   (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Last night's revelation that one of the Germanwings flight's pilots was locked out of the cockpit before the plane went down and tried desperately to get back inside suggested something sinister occurred. Today, Marseilles prosecutor Brice Robin indicated that was indeed the case, saying it appears that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who was at the controls, intended to "destroy this plane." Lubitz began the descent manually and "intentionally," reports the AP, and was conscious until impact. The Guardian reports that the revelations came by way of the cockpit voice recorder's last 30 minutes. The initial 20 minutes capture normal conversation, says Robin; at that point, the pilot leaves to make a "natural call."

In what Robin classified as a "voluntary" move, the 28-year-old German co-pilot then manually accelerated the descent, having pressed "the buttons of the flight monitoring system," per the BBC. The pilot's entreaties to be let in go unanswered, and the co-pilot's breathing can be heard; he doesn't utter a single word. Though the plane had a keypad that could be used to gain entry outside the cockpit door, the New York Times reports by way of an Airbus video that someone in the cockpit can move a "toggle to a position marked 'locked'"; doing so renders the keypad useless for five minutes. As for Lubitz, he is "not known as a terrorist, absolutely not," says Robin, who did not categorize the move as a suicide, though "it is a legitimate question to ask." NBC News reports Lubitz signed on with the airline in September 2013 after completing his training; he had flown for 630 hours. (More Germanwings crash stories.)

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