German airline left “speechless” by co-pilot actions

A typical Germanwings Airbus A320 craft

The Airbus A320 crashed into the French Alps on Tuesday, while travelling from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. After recovering the cockpit recorder from the site, investigators revealed today that the co-pilot, Andrew Lubitz, appeared to have prevented the flight’s captain from re-entering the cockpit after a toilet break.

Brice Robin, the Marseille public prosecutor, told a press conference today that the first officer had locked the cabin door, before manually entering a descent. The recording of the eight-minute descent suggested that he was breathing normally and therefore not injured or unconscious, he added.

“The co-pilot at that moment alone uses the flight management system that starts the descent of the aircraft. This action can only be done voluntarily,” Brice was quoted as saying by The Independent .

“We hear several cries of the pilot asking for access through the intercom system. But there’s no answer from the co-pilot.”

“At this stage nothing indicates a terrorist attack,” he continued, noting that the death of the victims was instantaneous upon collision.

A later press confeernce from Lufthansa , given by chief executive Carsten Spohr, said that the news “leaves us absolutely speechless”.

“We can only speculate what might have been the motivation of the co-pilot,” he commented. “In a company that prides itself on its safety record, this is a shock. We select cockpit personnel carefully.”

Germanwings has placed the following statement on its website : “We are aware of the shocking statements of the French authorities, which reported the copilot of the aircraft crashed it purposely. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and friends of the victims.”