A German pilot deliberately crashed his plane into the side of a mountain after locking the captain out of the cockpit and ignoring pleas from air traffic controllers to make contact.
Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said the co-pilot, who he named as Andreas L., took actions that would “deliberately destroy the plane.”
The 28-year old co-pilot, who was from Montabaur, a small town west of the Rhine in Germany, had joined Germanwings in September 2013 and had flown 630 hours. German police officers began searching the co-pilot’s home in Dusseldorf seeking evidence for his motives.
Mr. Robin said that the co-pilot had deliberately locked the door and would not allow the pilot to re-enter the cockpit and put the plane into descent “for a reason we don’t know yet. But we can analyse the intention was to destroy the plane.”
Mr. Robin said the co-pilot did not say a word after the captain left the cockpit. Instead he systematically disabled all communications between the aircraft and other planes in the area, and did not respond to air traffic control or to the captain’s urgent knocking on the door.
The captain, who had initially knocked gently on the door of the cockpit, began to bang louder and more urgently. The voice recorder heard passengers screaming the few moments before impact.
Mr. Brice said “there is no indication that this is a terrorist action,” but said he did not want to refer to it as a suicide case either as other people had died.
Carsten Spohr, the Lufthansa chief executive, looking visibly shaken at a press conference in Cologne a few hours later, said the news was “beyond our worst nightmare.”
He added: “I have absolute and complete trust in our pilots,” and said pilots were recruited not just because of their knowledge and technical expertise but also their psychological make up.