It appears that the Germanwings plane which went down in the French Alps was deliberately crashed by its co-pilot.
According to a French prosecutor investigating the black box flight recorder recovered from the wreckage, the co-pilot “voluntarily” acted in a way that intentionally led to the destruction of the aircraft.
Following the revelation, Lufthansa’s Chief Executive told a press conference in Cologne: “It leaves us absolutely speechless.”
“I can only repeat what I have said over the last few days. We are really deeply shocked and I wouldn’t not have been able to imagine that the situation would have got even worse,” a solemn Carsten Spohr (pictured) told reporters.
It is understood that the commanding pilot of the plane went to the toilet during the flight at which point he was locked out of the cockpit by the co-pilot, 28-year-old Andreas Lubitz.
French public prosecutor, Brice Robin, told a press conference in Marseille on Thursday that Lubitz could be heard on the black box recording breathing up until the point of impact in a way that suggests he was not unconscious.
Robin said the commanding pilot can be heard desperately pleading with Lubitz in the minutes leading up to the crash, trying to break down the cockpit door. Passengers can also be heard screaming.
Robin told the press conference that everything appears to have been completely normal between the pilot and co-pilot during the flight, until the commander left the cockpit.
“At that moment, the co-pilot was alone at the controls and it was while he was alone that the co-pilot manipulated the flight monitoring system to action the descent of the plane. The action of selecting the altitude could only have been done voluntarily,” Robin said.
“We heard several calls from the flight commander asking for access to the cockpit. There was a visual and audio interphone and he identified himself. There was no response from the co-pilot.
“The flight commander tapped on the door to demand for it to be opened but there was no response. We heard human breathing in the cabin and we heard this until the final impact, which suggests the co-pilot was alive.”
Robin confirmed that he believes voluntarily crashed the plane.
“Forty-eight hours after the crash … the interpretation for us is that the co-pilot deliberately refused to open the door of the cockpit to the flight commander, and pushed the button causing a loss of altitude.”
According to Robin, though, it was not apparent that the co-pilot who had worked for Germanwings since September 2013 had any reason to crash the plane. “There is nothing to suggest this was a terrorist act,” he said.
Germanwings flight 4U9525, en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, crashed in a remote region of the French Alps on Tuesday. All 150 passengers and crew on board were killed.
Two Australian citizens are known to be among the victims.
IMAGE: Carsten Spohr, Chairman of German airline Lufthansa (parent company of Germanwings), speaks to the media following the latest developments in the investigation into the crash of flight 4U9525. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)