, MARIGNANE, France, Mar 27 – The co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings flight appears to have deliberately crashed the plane after locking his captain out of the cockpit, French officials said, with the “unimaginable” development sparking global shock and anger among victims’ loved ones.
In a chilling account of the final minutes of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525, lead prosecutor Brice Robin said Thursday that 28-year-old German Andreas Lubitz initiated the plane’ descent into the French Alps while alone at the controls.
Lubitz appeared to “show a desire to want to destroy” the plane, Robin told reporters after his team analysed the Airbus A320’s cockpit voice recorder.
The first officer, who was described by neighbours and fellow flying club members as a “friendly” guy-next-door type who enjoyed jogging with his girlfriend, was not however believed to be part of a terrorist plot, officials said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the revelation added an “absolutely unimaginable dimension” to Tuesday’s tragedy, in which 150 people were killed, mostly German and Spanish nationals.
It prompted airlines to review their cockpit policies, many announcing they will now require two crew members in the cockpit at all times.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was “deeply shaken” by the news and sent his “heartfelt affection” to the victims’ families, dozens of whom had arrived near the crash site.
They were briefed by the prosecutor, who said they reacted with “shock” to the findings.
Robin said the passengers were killed “instantly” by the crash and were probably unaware of the impending disaster until the “very last moment.”
“The screams are heard only in the last instants before the impact,” he said.