On Thursday, Marseilles prosecutor Brice Robin, who is investigating the crash of Germanwings flight 4U 9525, which crashed into the French Alps and killed all 150 people on board on Tuesday morning, said that first pilot Andreas Lubitz “deliberately destroyed” the plane.
The plane, an Airbus A320, was flying from Barcelona, Spain, to Düsseldorf, Germany, when it crashed and killed all 144 passengers and six crew members instantly. Aside from the names of the pilots, the airline has announced that it will not release the names of the passengers who were on board, “not only due to data protection but above all to honor their privacy.”
The Telegraph noted that the flight, which crashed near Digne-les-Bains in the French Alps, was one of France’s worst aviation disasters.
During a press conference on Thursday, Robin said that after investigating the plane’s black box recorder, he determined that the crash was “not an accident,” and that Lubitz seemed to have deliberately destroyed the plane.
Robin explained that prior to the crash, Lubitz was alone at the controls, after the captain of the flight, Patrick Sondenheimer, left to use the restroom. Robin said that Lubitz “voluntarily refused to open the door of the cockpit to the pilot and voluntarily began the descent of the plane.”
“For the last 20 minutes the conversation was normal, courteous, nothing abnormal,” Robin said. He explained that it was not until the captain left to of to the restroom and Lubitz was alone, that he began to manipulate the flight monitoring system, and put the plane into descent mode.
“The action of this selection of altitude can only be deliberate,” said Robin, who went on to say that in the minutes before the crash, there was “absolute silence in the cockpit,” and that while Lubitz’s breathing was detected on the recording from the black box, he sent no distress signal.
Robin said that there is no evidence to suggest Lubitz had links to terrorist groups, or that this was a terrorist act.
The Guardian reported that Lubitz, a 28-year-old from Germany, clocked a total of 630 flying hours, and had been flying for Germanwings since September 2013, after receiving training from the airline’s parent company Lufthansa.
The Independent reported that the flight’s captain, Patrick Sondenheimer, was a married father of two, who had completed more than 6,000 flying hours, and had been flying with Germanwings since May 2014, after working with both Lufthansa and Condor. The black box recording indicated that after attempting to return to the cockpit, and finding that the door was locked, Sondenheimer knocked, received no response from Lubitz, and then tried to break down the door before the plan crashed.