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Germanwings Crash Co-pilot Rehearsed Deadly Descent On Previous Flight

Germanwings Crash Co-pilot Rehearsed Deadly Descent On Previous Flight
D-AGWM A319-132 Germanwings Steven Byles / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

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Germanwings Crash Co-pilot Rehearsed Deadly Descent On Previous Flight

The Germanwings Flight 9525 co-pilot who deliberately crashed the plane into the Alps last March is suspected to have practiced flying another plane into a deadly descent, a report by French investigators said on Wednesday.

Findings in the 30-page interim report issued by French accident investigation agency BEA support the inference that the Germanwings crash was not accidental but intentional.

Andreas Lubitz rehearsed the descent on the flight from Duesseldorf to Barcelona on March 24, just two hours before he crashed the Germanwings flight into the Alps.

The report also sheds light on the fact that Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit. On several occasions, the altitude dial touched as low as 100 ft, though air traffic control in Bordeaux instructed to keep the dial at 35,000 ft and then 21,000 ft. It was also set to as high as 49,000 ft.

The fluctuating changes in the altitude dial occurred in a period of five minutes starting 7:30 a.m.

It still hasn’t been determined why the co-pilot, after locking the pilot out of the cockpit, crashed the Airbus A320 into a mountain.

Lubitz had been suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies in the past. Following the accident, German investigators found he had been declared sick by his doctor on the same day as the crash. He had also looked up ways to commit suicide on the computer found at his home days leading up to the incident.

The accident killed all 150 passengers on the plane.

“During the descent of the accident flight, the Marseille control centre called the flight crew on 11 occasions on three different frequencies, without any answer being transmitted,” the report authorized by BEA says.

“The French military defence system tried to contact flight GWI18G on three occasions during the descent, without any answer. The buzzer to request access to the cockpit sounded once during the descent, 4min 7sec after the captain had left. The interphone sounded in the cockpit 4min 40sec after the captain had left. Three other calls on the interphone sounded in the cockpit. None of the calls using the interphone elicited any answer.”

Lubitz did not fly from March 13 till March 22 this year, according to The Guardian. He made a flight from Düsseldorf to Berlin-Tegel between 4.57 a.m. and 5.56 a.m. on April 23, and returned as an on-board passenger to Düsseldorf at 8.20 a.m.

The report further says, “On 14 July 2009, his request for renewal of his class 1 medical certificate was refused by the Lufthansa aeromedical centre … on 28 July 2009, he obtained a new class 1 medical certificate valid until 9 April 2010, endorsed with the note: “Note the special conditions/restrictions of the waiver FRA 091/09 -REV-.”

Class 1 medical certificate is required by all pilots flying commercial planes. The one issued for Lubitz on 9 April 2008 was “not revalidated a year later by the Lufthansa aeromedical centre due to depression and the taking of medication to treat it”.

“His pilot’s licence then included the limitation ‘‘***SIC**incl. PPL***’’, which means ‘Specific regular medical examinations – contact the licence issuing authority’,” the report added.

According to TIME, Lufthansa spokesman Helmut Tolksdorf said that the company has not looked into the new details surfaced in the report.

Germanwings is a subsidiary of Lufthansa.

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