Paris: In a shocking revelation, the French prosecutor said that the co-pilot of the Germanwings A320 flight deliberately crashed the airliner, killing all 144 passengers and six crew members on board.
The action of the first officer, Andreas G. Lubitz, of the crashed Germanwings A320 in the French Alps “can be analysed as his intention to destroy the aircraft”, said Brice Robin at a press conference.
The prosecutor told media that they had come to this conclusion after listening to the cockpit voice recorder recovered from the crash site, the Spanish news agency EFE said.
Robin said the 28-year-old co-pilot appears to have deliberately refused to open the door for the captain who had left the cockpit briefly after flight 4U 9525 took off from Barcelona in Spain headed for Dusseldorf in Germany.
He said that for the first 20 minutes of the flight, there was “normal conversation” between the two pilots till the captain decided to leave the cockpit.
The moving of the seat and shutting of the door could be heard on the cockpit voice recorder. Later, they could make out a banging on the door, with the captain asking the co-pilot to open the door. This could be heard on the speaker phone that the captain used.
The co-pilot was alive till the last moment, as his breathing could be heard, but he apparently chose not to speak up or respond to the captain, the prosecutor said, adding that no words were spoken in the last 10 minutes before the plane crashed around 11 a.m. local time on Tuesday in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in the southern French Alps.
He said the plane started its descent even as the captain was asking to be allowed in.
“This could only be from a deliberate act” on the part of the co-pilot, the prosecutor said.
According to Robin, there was no indication that the co-pilot was a terrorist.
According to a Xinhua report from Berlin, Germanwings and its parent company said in a joint statement that they have been “shaken” by the French prosector’s report.
“We are shaken by the upsetting statements of the French authorities,” said Germanwings and Lufthansa in a statement on Twitter.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and friends of the victims,” said the statement.
In Cologne, Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr said that his company and Germanwing were “stunned” by the French prosecutor’s statements.
Addressing the media, Spohr said what had happened in the plane was “not conceivable”.
He stressed at the same time that all Lufthansa pilots, including the two pilots on board the crashed plane, had been “carefully selected”, adding that they are trained and passed tests to become pilots.
According to Spohr, the co-pilot had passed all the flight and medical tests and was 100 percent fit to fly.
He said Lubitz started his training in an aviation school in Bremen, Germany, in 2008, but the process got interrupted. Spohr did not mention the reason for this.
The training then resumed, the chief executive said, and Lubitz started to work as a co-pilot for Germanwings since 2013.
According to Spohr, a pilot candidate for Lufthansa and Germanwings must receive a fitness test after training interruption for whatever reasons and can only continue if the fitness was established.