French officials have confirmed on Thursday that the co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings flight 9525 had deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps. Authorities have pointed to a voice recorder that proves the captain had been locked out of the cockpit while the co-pilot, identified as Andreas Lubitz, manually reset the aircraft to descend from 38,000 feet to 96 feet, according to data from flight tracking service Flightradar24.
The plane crashed onto the mountainside after setting an altitude of 6,000 feet.
It was first reported in The New York Times that the second Germanwings pilot was locked out of the cockpit moments before the crash. Evidence from a voice recorder within the cockpit indicated that the captain started to knock lightly on the door before he decided to break it down.
“And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer,” said a senior French military official. “There is never an answer.”
German national Lubitz was a 28-year-old from Montabaur, Germany, according to The Independent. It has been reported he had a total of 630 hours of flying time.
During the press conference, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr revealed Lubitz had taken a break amounting to three months six years ago while still on training.
When speaking about the co-pilot’s physical and mental capability to pilot an aircraft, Spohr was confident.
“We have regular psychological checks and we also have a medical check once per year. We have a very high flung and sophisticated selection procedure. Later on during training and later on during professional life the person is observed. But there is no procedure anywhere in the world where the family and friends are interviewed.”
When asked about the possibility of terrorism, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere dismissed the idea, saying that there have been zero indications of a terrorist background, and that investigations will cover every aspect of the Germanwings crash.
“Rule of two”
New rules are now being planned in terms of keeping two crew members inside the cockpit at all times. Similar to the buddy system, the proposed rule will prohibit instances where a pilot is alone inside the cockpit.
According to The Guardian, easyJet and the Norwegian Air Shuttle, two low-cost European airlines, have announced they will adapt the new rule almost immediately. Air Canada and Air Transat have also announced the same.
U.S. airlines are already adapting the “rule of two.”
The European Aviation Safety Agency, however, allows one pilot to leave the cockpit as long as “at least one suitably qualified pilot remains at the controls of the aircraft at all times.”
Also read: Germanwings Plane Crash In Brief