Words by: Darcie Boelen
Image credit: Guim
An investigation into the crash of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 has found that the co-pilot deliberately flew the A320 into the French Alps, killing all passengers and crew.
28 year old co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had reportedly locked the pilot out of the cockpit and proceeded to destroy the aircraft and kill himself and 149 other people.
This information is based on recordings from the cockpit, where they can hear Captain Patrick Sonderheimer asking to be let back into the cockpit. The recording also picks up the sounds of breathing in the cockpit until the crash occurs, meaning that Lubitz was alive and it was not an accident.
Lubitz did not say a single word for the final ten minutes of the flight.
Prosecutor Brice Robin refuses to describe the crash as a suicide. “When we have the lives of 150 passengers involved, I can’t call this a suicide,” he said.
Executives from Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, released a statement saying that they were shocked by the tragedy and deeply apologetic to the families of the victims:
“It appears that the co-pilot, who had stayed in the cockpit, prevented the captain from re-entering by fully locking the cockpit door in order to then initiate the fatal descent. All Germanwings and Lufthansa employees are deeply shocked. We could never have imagined that a tragedy like this could occur within our company.”
Bodo Klimpel, mayor of the town of Haltern, home to the students aboard the flight, described it as a “nightmare” in a news conference.
“It’s bad enough for the families to learn of the death of loved ones in an accident,” said Klimpel, “But when it’s clear that an individual may possibly have deliberately caused the accident, it takes on an even worse dimension.”
Cockpit doors are designed to prevent forced entry, and are equipped with security systems and cameras. These upgrades were largely a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks when four planes were hijacked.
A number of airlines including Air Canada, EasyJet and Fly Norwegian have announced they would adopt new rules requiring more than one person in the cockpit at all times.
It is reported that Lubitz had a mental breakdown six years ago which interrupted his training, but had made a full recovery and was declared by health professionals as fit to fly. He had been listed as setting “a positive example” in a 2013 report in the Aviation Business Gazette, acknowledging his inclusion in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airmen Certification Database.
The report states:
“Pilot certification standards have evolved over time in an attempt to reduce pilot errors that lead to fatal crashes. FAA standards, which are set in consultation with the aviation industry and the public, are among the highest in the world.”
Most of the passengers on the flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf were German. The identities of the two Australian citizens are still not yet known.