Germanwings co-pilot ‘rehearsed’ deadly plan
The co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings flight deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps after “rehearsing” the descent on an earlier flight, French investigators said on Wednesday (May 6).
The BEA civil aviation investigators said the co-pilot, 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz, had practised the manoeuvre on the outbound trip from Duesseldorf to Barcelona just hours before his suicidal actions on the return flight.
“Several altitude selections towards 100 feet were recorded during descent on the flight that preceded the accident flight, while the co-pilot was alone in the cockpit,” read the report.
Data from the earlier flight was found in one of two black boxes from the aircraft.
Mr Remi Jouty, the director of the BEA, told journalists there had been no “noticeable effect” as the plane had already begun its descent into Barcelona while he was carrying out the practice manipulations.
The Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 people on board.
Bringing the plane down
The probe into the crash confirmed initial suspicions that Mr Lubitz deliberately brought the plane down.
On the fatal flight back to Duesseldorf which left at 9am local time, everything initially proceeded normally, with Mr Lubitz even eating his meal 15 minutes into the flight, the report said.
At 9.30am the captain left the cockpit to go to the toilet, and the selected altitude on the flight control unit changed “in one second” from cruising altitude of 38,000 feet to 100 feet – the minimum height possible to select on an A320.
The speed of the plane was also gradually increased.
During the descent, air traffic controllers in the city of Marseille tried to call the plane 11 times on three different frequencies with no response.
The air force also tried to contact the plane three times to no avail.