A young German co-pilot barricaded himself alone in the cockpit of Germanwings flight 9525 and apparently set it on course to crash into an Alpine mountain, killing all 150 people on board including himself, French prosecutors said on Thursday.
They offered no motive for why Andreas Lubitz, 27, would take the controls of the Airbus A320, lock the captain out of the cockpit and deliberately set it veering down from cruising altitude at 3,000 feet per minute.
German police searched his home for evidence that might offer some explanation for what was behind Tuesday’s crash in the French Alps.
The scenario stunned the aviation world. Within hours of the prosecutors’ announcement, several airlines responded by immediately changing their rules to require a second crew member to be in the cockpit at all times. That is already compulsory in the United States but not in Europe.
This morning the German tabloid Bild published a story that reported the French prosecutors said they believed Andreas Lubitz, a 27-year-old co-pilot at Lufthansa’s budget airline Germanwings, had locked the captain out of the cockpit and steered the Airbus A320 airliner into its fatal descent.
Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr acknowledged at a news conference on Thursday that Lubitz had broken off his training in 2009 but did not explain why. He said there was nothing in the pilot’s background to suggest he was a risk.
But Bild, citing internal documents forwarded by Lufthansa’s Aeromedical Center to German authorities, reported that Lubitz had suffered from depression and anxiety, and had been judged to have suffered a “serious depressive episode” around the time he suspended his training.
Lufthansa and German prosecutors declined to comment on the report, which is likely to raise questions about the airline’s screening procedures for its pilots and, if confirmed, could expose it to substantial liabilities in the crash.