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Alone in 4U9525 cockpit
 

Co-pilot “wanted to destroy plane”, French prosecutors say

“Absolute silence inside the cockpit during the last 10 minutes”, said Brice Robin, Marseille prosecutor. Lufthansa president: “I would not have been able to imagine that the situation would have got even worse.”

FUENTES Agencies AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus PARIS 26 DE MARZO DE 2015 14:30 h
Crash scene. / Getty images

Brice Robin, Marseille prosecutor, citing information from the "black box" voice recorder, said that the co-pilot appears to have crashed the plane deliberately. He intentionally started a descent while the pilot was locked out.



Robin stated that they believed the co-pilot refused to open the door to the pilot and he took the plane down. “The intention was to destroy this plane”, he said.



 



CO-PILOT PUT PLANE INTO A DIVE



“We hear the pilot ask the co-pilot to take control of the plane and we hear at the same time the sound of a seat moving backwards and the sound of a door closing," Mr Robin told the press



That was when, as French prosecutor explained, “The co-pilot is controlling the plane by himself. While he is alone, he pushed the button to trigger the aircraft to lose altitude. He operated this button for a reason we don't know yet”.



 



Brice Robin press conference / AFP



Before that, everything seemed normal according to the transcript “For the first 20 minutes of the flight, the pilots spoke in a normal way, you could say cheerful and courteous,” Brice commented. “We heard the flight commander prepare the briefing for landing at Düsseldorf and the response of the co-pilot seemed laconic. Then we heard the commander ask the co-pilot to take the controls”, he added.



Robin confirmed that the co- pilot was breathing normally at the point of impact and he said nothing during the final descent, which lasted about 10 minutes: “There is  absolute silence inside the cockpit, nothing, no word during the last 10 minutes”, he said.



 



The search continues / Reuters



 



Despite the silence, the prosecutor told the reporters that the passengers could be heard screaming just before the crash.



Air traffic controllers tried to contract the plane in the last few minutes before the crash, but received no reply from the cockpit. “The control tower at Marseille, receiving no response from the aircraft, asked for a distress code, and the activation of the transponder for a forced landing. There was no response. Air traffic control asked other aircraft in the area for a radio relay to try to contact the Airbus. No response came”, Robin explained.



 



LUFTHANSA PRESS CONFERENCE



Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr has held a pres conference, where he has started saying that: "In our worst nightmares we couldn't have imagined that such a tragedy could happen within our company"



Spohr believed that the captain punched in the emergency number into the cockpit door to gain entry:  "Either the captain didn't enter the code correctly, which we find unlikely because everybody involved knows this code by heart, or the colleague had entered the code and the co-pilot prevented the door from opening by pushing the five-minute  lock switch”, the CEO explained.



 



Lufthansa CEO press conference / AFP



 



"No matter your safety regulations, no matter how high you set the bar, and we have incredibly high standards, there is no way to rule out such an event", Mr Spohr lamented. But, despite the disaster, Lufthansa had full confidence in its training and pilot screening procedures: “We select cockpit personnel carefully”. These would nevertheless be reviewed, he said.



 



NO TERRORIST ACTION



Robin named the co-pilot as Andreas Lubitz, a 28 year old German citizen.



There was no indication that Lubitz’s actions amounted to terrorism, Robin said. But he stopped short of declaring it suicide, saying only that was a “legitimate” question to ask.



Lubitz was a first officer who had been flying for Germanwings since September 2013 after being trained in Lufthansa’s facility in Bremen. He had clocked up a total of 630 hours in the air.



 



FAMILIES AT THE CRASH SCENE



Around 40 relatives and friends of the victims are already in  the crash scene. The recovery of the bodies will go on probably until the end of next week, although there are reports that bodies are now being recovered and airlifted from the area.



Lufthansa arranged two special flights for families and friends, one from Barcelona and one from Düsseldorf to Marseille, and both groups traveled on by road. Those relatives who did not want to fly traveled by bus from Barcelona.



A field in front of a holiday centre is the closest families will be able to get to the site of the tragedy, where remains were still being located scattered across the craggy rock-face.



 



Flags representing the nationalities of some of the victims were held up as their friends and relatives gathered for a ceremony in a field in Seyne-les-Alpes/ Reuters



 



Helicopters are continuing to search the crash site. There is no access by foot and the search teams are being winched down from the aircraft.



A temporary mortuary has been set up in the sports hall of the nearby town of Seyne-les-Alpes, from where many of the rescue teams have also been despatched.



The second black box has not been found yet.


 

 


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