The co-pilot of a Germanwings flight that slammed into an Alpine mountainside “intentionally” sent the plane into its doomed descent, a French prosecutor has said.
Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said on Thursday that the commander left the cockpit, presumably to go to the lavatory, and then was unable to regain access.
In the meantime, he said, co-pilot Andreas Lubitz manually and “intentionally” set the plane on the descent that drove it into the mountainside in the southern French Alps.
It was the co-pilot’s “intention to destroy this plane,” Robin said.
The information was pulled from the black box cockpit voice recorder, but Robin said the co-pilot did not say a word after the commanding pilot left the cockpit.
“It was absolute silence in the cockpit,” he said.
During the final minutes of the flight’s descent, pounding could be heard on the door as alarms sounded, he said.
Meanwhile, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that current information suggested that the co-pilot had no links to terrorism.
“According to the current state of knowledge and after comparing information that we have, he does not have a terrorist background,” he said.
In the German town of Montabaur, acquaintances said Lubitz was in his late twenties and showed no signs of depression when they saw him last fall as he renewed his glider pilot’s license.
“He was happy he had the job with Germanwings and he was doing well,” said a member of the glider club, Peter Ruecker, who watched him learn to fly. “He gave off a good feeling.”
Lubitz had obtained his glider pilot’s license as a teenager, and was accepted as a Lufthansa pilot trainee after finishing a tough German college preparatory school, Ruecker said. He described Lubitz as a “rather quiet” but friendly young man.