Germanwings crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz ‘practised rapid descent’

The co-pilot of the Germanwings plane which crashed in the French Alps in March may have practised a rapid descent on a previous flight, the German newspaper Bild has said.

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It quoted French investigators as saying Andreas Lubitz tried a controlled descent earlier that day. Lubitz is suspected of deliberately crashing the Airbus 320, killing all 150 people on board. The plane had been flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf on 24 March.

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Bild quoted sources close to the investigation as saying that Lubitz tried a “controlled, minute-long descent for which there was no aeronautical reason”. The descent occurred on the plane’s outbound flight from Duesseldorf to Barcelona on the same day, they added, citing data on its “black box” flight recorder.

French gendarmes and investigators work amongst the debris of the Airbus A320 at the site of the crash, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps

German prosecutors revealed that Lubitz had researched suicide methods and the security of cockpit doors. Voice recorder findings suggest he locked the pilot out of the cockpit on the doomed flight.

Andreas Lubitz unexpectedly reduced flight altitude on outbound journey from Dusseldorf to Barcelona the same day as fatal crash, says Bild newspaper.

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The cockpit voice recorder found in the wreckage in a rocky ravine in the French Alps showed Lubitz had locked the captain, Patrick Sondheimer, out of the flight deck after his colleague left to use the lavatory. He then put the plane’s automatic pilot into a controlled descent, increasing the speed of the Airbus several times as it dropped. Sondheimer can be heard trying to smash his way in, shouting: “Open the damned door.” Seconds later, the aircraft ploughed into the mountain.

They had quoted a report from France’s investigating agency as referring to a “controlled descent that lasted for minutes and for which there was no aeronautical justification”

Earlier, German media reports said Lubitz received treatment for a “serious depressive episode” six years ago during his training to become a pilot.

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The company, which also owns Austrian Airlines and Swiss Air, said the pilot had passed all the relevant examinations necessary to become a pilot and was deemed “100% airworthy”.

 

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