Lubitz has been identified as the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, which crashed in France on Tuesday, killing Lubitz and 149 others. Authorities now believe Lubitz wanted to destroy the plane.
A flight voice recorder picked up the sounds of the pilot leaving the cockpit, a French prosecutor said. And the recorder caught the sounds of Lubitz breathing as the Airbus A320 plummeted toward the French Alps.
Marseille-based prosecutor Brice Robin told reporters that there was “absolute silence in the cockpit” as the plane descended. The voice recorder indicates that the pilot was locked out while Lubitz remained inside.
“This action can only be done deliberately,” Robin added.
As the information was released, authorities were careful when discussing of the co-pilot’s actions. “People who commit suicide usually do so alone … I don’t call it a suicide,” Robin said.
But Lubitz’s silence as the plane lost altitude has left many questions, and some are seeking answers in what little is known about his life.
German authorities are expected to release more information about Lubitz later this week, the AFP reported, but some details have begun to emerge about the co-pilot.
Lubitz, who Robin said was 28 though others reported was 27, started flying for Lufthansa’s budget carrier Germanwings in 2013, after completing training. He had about 630 hours of flight experience, a Lufthansa spokesman confirmed to The Post.
Training for Lufthansa is a five-step process that takes about 2 1/2 years to complete, a Lufthansa spokesman said. The first stage takes place in Bremen, Germany, and is followed by training at a facility in Arizona. Training then continues in Bremen for stages 3 and 4, before the final step — stage 5 — in Frankfurt.
The Post attempted to contact the facility in Arizona, which the spokesman said was used for training in part because of the area’s weather conditions; however, each call resulted in a busy signal.
Local officials in Duesseldorf — where the plane was headed after taking off from Barcelona — told the Associated Press that a security check on Lubitz didn’t turn up any issues in late January, and previous checks also didn’t indicate any problems.
The local government is responsible for checking personnel at airlines based in the region. It conducts the checks — which look for any criminal record or links to extremists — once every five years, a gap that used to be once every two years.
Lubitz did take a break in his training, the Lufthansa spokesman confirmed, though the details that might help explain that gap remain unclear. Lufthansa’s chief executive, Carsten Spohr, said he was thought to be “fit to fly” on the day of the crash.
“We at Lufthansa are speechless,” he told reporters in Germany.
French prosecutor: Co-pilot of doomed flight sought to ‘destroy the plane’
The Associated Press spoke with members of his flying club in Germany, who described Lubitz as pleased with his professional life. Reported AP:
“He has happy he had the job with Germanwings and he was doing well,” said longtime club member Peter Ruecker, who watched him learn to fly. “He was very happy, he gave off a good feeling.”
Club chairman Klaus Radke said he rejected Marseille prosecutors’ conclusion that Lubitz put the Germanwings flight intentionally into a descent and dove it into the French Alps when the pilot had left the cockpit.
“I don’t see how anyone can draw such conclusions before the investigation is completed,” he told the AP.
In an interview with Reuters, Radke described Lubitz as “a completely normal guy.”
“I got to know him, or I should say reacquainted with him, as a very nice, fun and polite young man,” said Radke, who told Reuters that Lubitz had taken a course with him that fall.
The AP reported that in the town of Montabaur, about 50 miles northwest of Frankfurt, police cars had parked near a two-story home, where curtains covered the windows. It was believed to be the home of Lubitz’s parents.
Police were keeping reporters away from the property, located in a middle-class neighborhood. Lights could be seen inside, and a man left with large blue bags.
“Andreas was a very nice young man who got his training here and was a member of the club,” Ruecker told Reuters. “He was a lot of fun, even though he was perhaps sometimes a bit quiet. He was just another boy like so many others here.”
[Stephanie Kirchner contributed to this post, which has been updated several times.]
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