Germanwings Co-Pilot Deliberately Crashed Plane, French Prosecutor Says

On Thursday, a French prosecutor announced that a co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U 9525, which went down Tuesday, appears to have crashed the Germanwings plane deliberately. According to prosecutor Brice Robin, co-pilot Andreas Lubitz pressed a button to order the plane to descend when the main pilot went to the bathroom. Lubitz then refused to open the cockpit door to let the other pilot re-enter; audio revealed that the main pilot had banged on the door and demanded to be let in, Robin said, but Lubitz did not acquiesce.

According to the New York Times, the audio recording revealed that in the minutes before the crash, the pilot had left the cockpit and was unable to re-enter. “The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer,” a senior French military official involved in the investigation told the Times on condition of anonymity. “And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer.”

The comments from the French prosecutor leading the investigation now suggest that this silence was deliberate. Robin said:

At this moment, in light of investigation, the interpretation we can give at this time is that the co-pilot through voluntary abstention refused to open the door of the cockpit to the commander, and activated the button that commands the loss of altitude.

Robin added that Lubitz had been breathing normally up until the moment of the crash, in spite of the rapid descent of the plane into the French Alps and the banging of the main pilot on the cockpit door, and that he consciously wanted to "destroy the aircraft."

It's unclear what Lubitz's motive could have been, but both FAA records and Robin confirm that he had no clear link to terrorism.

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