Experts believe the co-pilot intentionally caused the Germanwings plane crash, but was it suicide or a terror attack?
After the black box with the flight recordings was recovered and is now being analyzed, experts believe they are getting closer to understanding how and why Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed into the French Alps. Investigators believe that the 150 passengers, including an Israeli victim, were killed in an act of either terror or suicide.
A French prosecutor announced Thursday that a German co-pilot appears to have deliberately crashed the plane. The prosecutor added that the co-pilot, identified as Andreas Lubitz, was not known as a wanted terrorist. He apparently locked the main pilot out of the cockpit as the plane went down.
Details emerged from cockpit audio that was recovered from the mangled black box found among the aircraft debris.
The CEO of Lufthansa, which owns budget carrier Germanwings, had described the pilots as “experienced and trained.”
Lubitz was just 18 months out of flight school.
The Airbus A320, on a flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, inexplicably began to descend from cruising altitude after losing radio contact with ground control and slammed into a remote mountainside in the French Alps.
The A320 plane is designed with safeguards to allow emergency entry if a pilot inside is unresponsive, but the override code known to the crew does not go into effect — and indeed goes into a five-minute lockdown — if the person inside the cockpit specifically denies entry, according to an Airbus training video and a pilot who has six years of experience with the jets.
The training video shows that the A320 cockpit has safeguards in case one pilot inside becomes incapacitated while the other is outside, or if both pilots inside are unconscious. Normally, someone trying to get into the cockpit requests access and a camera feed or peephole allows the pilot to decide whether to accept or specifically deny access. If there is no response, a member of the flight crew can tap in an emergency code again requesting access. If there is still no response, the door opens automatically.
The pilot, who demanded anonymity because he did not want to meddle in an ongoing investigation, said airlines in Europe are not required to have two people in the cockpit at all times.
Since the 9/11 attacks, the standard US operating procedure is that if a pilot leaves — for example, to use the facilities — a flight attendant takes his or her spot in the cockpit.
The New York Times earlier quoted an unidentified investigator as saying that someone could be heard knocking on the cockpit door. The Times quoted the source as saying: “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.”