The fatal crash of a German airliner in the French Alps, apparently a deliberate act by the plane’s co-pilot, seems to have been made possible by security measures brought in following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks intended to make air travel safer.
On Thursday, French officials said it appeared as if co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had deliberately downed Germanwings Flight 9525 by locking the cockpit door and refusing to allow the captain back inside. The crash killed all 150 on board.
Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz drove the plane into the “fatal descent” that preceded the crash, a French prosecutor and the Lufthansa chief said, adding that Lubitz had locked the captain out of the cockpit. “It was a voluntary action,” said the prosecutor, Brice Robin. The intention was “to destroy the aircraft”, he said.
German authorities are expected to release information about Lubitz later this week, the AFP reported, but details are beginning to emerge about the pilot.
Lubitz started working for Lufthansa’s budget carrier Germanwings in September 2013, immediately after completing training at Lufthansa’s Bremen facility. He had 630 hours of flight experience, a Lufthansa spokesperson said.
The data from the voice recorder seems only to deepen the mystery surrounding the crash and provides no indication of the condition or activity of the pilot who remained in the cockpit. The descent from 38,000 feet over about 10 minutes was alarming but still gradual enough to indicate that the twin-engine Airbus A320 had not been damaged catastrophically. At no point during the descent was there any communication from the cockpit to air traffic controllers or any other signal of an emergency.
At the crash site, a senior official working on the investigation said, workers found the casing of the plane’s other so-called black box, the flight data recorder, but the memory card containing data on the plane’s altitude, speed, location and condition was not inside, apparently having been thrown loose or destroyed by the impact.