Marseille prosecutor says co-pilot of ill-fated Germanwings jet put A320 into descent with captain locked outside cockpit
There is a dramatic new development in the investigation into the crash of the Germanwings passenger jet in the French Alps.
The tragedy appears to be a case of pilot suicide and mass murder.
The Marseille Prosecutor says information from the cockpit flight recorder appears to show that the co-pilot deliberately crashed the aircraft, killing all 150 passengers and crew.
The co-pilot has been named as 28-year-old Andreas Lubitz, who joined the airline directly after a training course. He had just over 600 hours of flying experience and joined Germanwings in September 2013.
The Marseille Prosecutor, Brice Robin, said Lubitz was left alone in the cockpit when the captain left to go to the toilet shortly after hitting the correct cruising altitude.
The co-pilot then refused to reopen the door when the captain knocked and the plane was deliberately put into a steady descent.
The prosecutor says it appears Lubitz wanted to “destroy” the aircraft.
The co-pilot was known to be breathing normally right up until the impact.
The sound of the captain attempting to smash the door down, as well as screaming from passengers, are reportedly heard on the cockpit flight recorder.
Robin said Lubitz was not known as a terrorist and there was nothing to suggest the incident was a terrorist act.
The German interior minister has also said there is no evidence that Lubitz had any links to terrorism.
A German state prosecutor had earlier said only one of the pilots was in the cockpit at the time of the crash.
The New York TImes had also reported on Wednesday that one of the pilots had been locked out of the cockpit.
German citizen Lubitz was included in a “prestigious” aviation database in September 2013 for “meeting or exceeding high educational, licensing and medical standards”.
The jet crashed in the French Alps while enroute from Barcelona to Dusseldorf with 144 passengers and six crew.
The plane came down in rugged mountainous terrain about 10 kilometres from the village of Seynes-les-Alpes. A search and recovery operation has been set up there.
On Wednesday the leaders of France, Germany and Spain visited the scene of the tragedy.
Most of the passengers were German and Spanish. They included 16 German students and two teachers returning from an exchange programme in Barcelona.