The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 purposely crashed the plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board, officials said
“We at Lufthansa are speechless that this aircraft has been deliberately crashed by the co-pilot,” said Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings.
Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said the co-pilot, 28-year-old German national Andreas Lubitz, apparently “wanted to destroy the aircraft.”
It’s unknown whether Lubitz planned his actions, Robin said. But he “took advantage” of a moment in which the pilot left the cockpit and “activated the descent,” which can only be done deliberately.
New details released Thursday appeared to support the startling revelation that someone set the plane on a crash course.
Transponder data shows that the autopilot was reprogrammed during the flight by someone inside the cockpit to change the plane’s altitude from 38,000 feet to 100 feet, according to Flightradar24, a website that tracks aviation data.
The plane’s cockpit audio recorder captured horrific sounds. The captain, somehow locked out of the cockpit, can be heard banging on the door, Robin said.
And screaming can be heard on the audio recording for the final few minutes of the flight.
Death was instantaneous for those on board when the plane plunged into the mountains, Robin said.
German authorities also say “that we have to assume” that Flight 9525 “was deliberately activated for a crash,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “This is hard to comprehend for most people. Nobody can imagine this.”
The French government has asked the FBI to help investigate the crash, a law enforcement official said.
A search is underway for the plane’s second “black box,” the flight data recorder, which could shed more light on the plane’s final minutes.