Who Is Andreas Lubitz, The Co-Pilot Believed To Have Intentionally Crashed Germanwings Flight 4U 9525?
Officials now believe that Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 was intentionally brought down by it’s co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, but are struggling to understand why.
Did Andreas Lubitz, Germanwings Co-Pilot, Intentionally Crash Plane?
The Germanwings Airbus 320 traveling from Barcelona to Düsseldorf crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 onboard. At first, the reason for the crash was unknown, but what was apparent was that the plane went into an unexplained eight-minute descent before crashing into the mountains in the South of France.
Rescue and recovery teams successfully retrieved one of the plane’s black boxes on Tuesday, and based on the content recovered, now believe the co-pilot intentionally crashed the plane, killing himself and all others on board. According to French prosecutor Brice Robin, the black box recovered contained recordings from the cockpit, in which the pilot is heard leaving the plane in the hands of co-pilot Lubitz for reasons unknown, though Robin suggested the pilot likely left to use the restroom. Once alone, Lubitz is believed to have set the plane’s descent into motion.
“At that moment, the co-pilot is controlling the plane by himself. While he is alone, the co-pilot presses the buttons of the flight monitoring system to put into action the descent of the aeroplane. This action on the altitude controls can only be deliberate,” Robin said.
The recordings continue to paint a picture of what occurred prior to the fatal crash. Authorities believe that Lubitz locked the cockpit door and refused to open it when the pilot returned. The pilot tried to enter in an emergency code to open the door, but Lubitz reportedly triggered an emergency override that kept the door unlocked.
“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer. And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer… You can hear he is trying to smash the door down,” an investigator told The New York Times.
Furthermore, Robin revealed that Lubitz can be heard breathing steadily throughout the descent, suggesting he did not suffer a medical emergency mid-flight. Robin seems positive that Lubitz intentionally caused the international disaster:
“The most plausible interpretation is that the co-pilot through a voluntary act had refused to open the cabin door to let the captain in. He pushed the button to trigger the aircraft to lose altitude. He operated this button for a reason we don’t know yet, but it appears that the reason was to destroy the plane.”
Carsten Spohr, the chief executive of Lufthansa, the company that owns Germanwings, agreed with Robin, telling reporters, “We must presume that the plane was deliberately flown into the ground.”
Spohr discussed the investigation in a press conference Thursday, where he made clear that, while it does appear likely that the plane was intentionally crashed, there have been no terrorist connections made to the incident. Both French officials and Lufthansa are currently investigating Lubitz in the hopes of finding a possible motive.
Who Is Andreas Lubitz?
During his press conference, Spohr revealed more information on Lubitz. The First Officer (or co-pilot) was a 28-year-old living in Germany who joined Germanwings in September of 2013 after finishing Lufthansa Flight Training School in Bremen. Lubitz had 630 hours of flying experience.
Spohr maintains that Lubitz was fit to fly and was completely authorized to be by himself in the cockpit (which is illegal in the US, but not in Germany).
“He was 100 percent fit to fly. There was no particular thing to note or to watch out for… We choose our staff very strictly. The choice of staff is very strict – we not only take into account their technical knowledge but also the psychological aspect of our staff,” Spohr stated.
The exact meaning of the phrase “psychological aspect of our staff” is unclear. Some outlets are reporting that Lufthansa and Germanwings required their pilots to undergo psychological examination, while others report that this was not part of official procedure. However, both Spohr and Robin agreed that they would not classify Lubitz’s actions as a suicide.
“If a person kills himself and also 149 other people, another word should be used – not suicide,” Sporh said.
“When you commit suicide, you die alone. With 150 on the plane, I wouldn’t call that suicide,” Robin, who was also at the press conference Thursday, added.
Little is known about Lubitz, but authorities say that they have no evidence tying him to any terrorist organizations. Lubitz was a member of the LSC Westerwald flight club in Montabaur, Germany, where he resided, and the club posted an obituary for Lubitz on their official website, mourning their loss.
“As a youth, Andreas became a member of the club, he wanted to see his dream of flying fulfilled. He started as a gliding student and managed to become a pilot of the Airbus A320. He succeeded in fulfilling his dream, a dream that he paid for with his life,” the statement read.
After it was revealed that Lubitz may have intentionally crashed the plane, the LSC Westerwald club website was taken down.
Peter Ruecker, a friend who knew Lubitz through LSC Westerwald, told RTL radio that Lubitz showed no signs of mental illness, calling the allegations against him a surprise.
“He was a perfectly normal young man. He was very happy with this job. He was satisfied and happy. He had achieved his dream: from an amateur pilot, he [had] become a professional. He had no problems. I don’t believe him capable of such a thing,” Ruecker said.
The investigation is ongoing, as authorities continue searching the crash site for the second black box.