Germanwings co-pilot deliberately destroyed aircraft

by Will Hall |

(REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay)A Germanwings aircraft taxis beside a Lufthansa Technik service building in Duesseldorf airport March 25, 2015. French investigators on Wednesday searched for the reason why a German Airbus ploughed into an Alpine mountainside, killing all 150 on board including 16 teenagers returning from a school trip to Spain. Helicopters flew over the site where the A320 operated by Lufthansa's Germanwings budget airline disintegrated after it went down in a remote area of ravines en route to Duesseldorf from Barcelona.

MARSEILLE, France (Christian Examiner) -- French authorities have announced the black box evidence indicates the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 accelerated the descent of the Airbus A320 aircraft while keeping the pilot locked out of the cabin in a deliberate decision to crash the aircraft.

(CNN/screen capture)The red line shows a fairly steady aircraft speed throughout the flight. However, the blue line shows a rapid rate of descent during the last 8 minutes of flight. The steady speed and the stable, but high, drop in altitude implies controlled flight, which puzzles investigators.

At a press conference, the French prosecutor in charge of the crash investigation said the pilot apparently had stepped out of the cabin and his knock to be let back in was ignored in silence, except for the consistent breathing of the co-pilot. His breathing pattern led investigators to conclude he was not suffering a heart attack or similar medical emergency and that the flight path was intentional. Even as the pilot slammed the door in an attempt to break in, the co-pilot declined to speak and his breathing was not labored.

Regarding the passengers, the spokesman said the voice recorder only picked up screams near the end. He said death was instantaneous at the speed and rate of descent at which the aircraft impacted the mountain.

The spokesman identified the co-pilot as Andreas Lubitz, and said he had about 600 hours of experience in the aircraft.

He declined to call Lubitz's actions suicide or a terrorist act.

"When you're responsible for 150 people behind you it is not suicide," he said, adding that Lubitz's name was not on any terrorist watch list.

The name of the pilot was not released.

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