French prosecutor Brice Robin has told media overnight that the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U 9525, crashing into the French Alps on Tuesday morning and leaving no survivors of 150 passengers and crew on board, appears to have deliberately caused the tragedy to “destroy the plane.”
The harrowing news follows the first details of the doomed flight’s black box recordings, in which an unnamed senior official confirmed to the New York Times that the pilot of the flight was locked out of the cockpit prior to the crash. Fairfax confirmed yesterday that the Airbus A320 model did allow this type of event to occur, although some airlines, US-based carriers for example, strictly enforce having two members of crew present in the cockpit at all times.
Parent company of Germanwings Lufthansa confirmed that this rule was not part of its flight protocol. Budget airline Easyjet has updated its protocol to reflect the two-person cockpit policy in light of the crash, according to the BBC.
The co-pilot of Tuesday Germanwings flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf has been identified as 28-year-old German man Andreas Lubitz, had been employed by Lufthansa since September 2013, and was reportedly “100% fit to fly” after undergoing the standard, rigorous health and safety checks by the airline.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement overnight that the news gave the tragedy a “new, simply incomprehensible dimension.”
Recordings from the cockpit suggest that the pilot of the aircraft asked Lubitz to take control of the plane—presumably as he was going to the toilet—only to find himself locked out upon returning. The recordings reportedly indicate that the pilot was heard banging on the door to be let in to no avail. The cockpit was in “absolute silence” during this time, according to French prosecutor Robin; Lubitz was reportedly alive and heard to be breathing normally before the impact, while screams from passengers could also be heard.
Lead image by Sacha Steinbach via Getty.