The co-pilot of a Germanwings flight that slammed into an Alpine mountainside was done “intentionally,” as he sent the plane into its doomed descent, a French prosecutor said Thursday. Marseilles prosecutor Brice Robin said the commander left the cockpit, presumably to go to the restroom, and then was unable to regain access. In the meantime, he said, co-pilot Andreas Lubitz manually and “intentionally” set the plane on a descent that drove it into the mountainside in the southern French Alps. During the final minutes of the flight’s descent, pounding could be heard on the door as alarms sounded, he said.
The information was pulled from the black box cockpit voice recorder, but Robin said the co-pilot did not say a word after the commanding pilot left the cockpit.
“It was absolute silence in the cockpit,” he said, as reported in Wall Street Journal.
However, new details emerging from the ongoing investigation on what could have led Lubitz to deliberately crash the plane, killing himself and 149 others, reveal that the 27-year-old co-pilot had some form of illness he was hiding from his employer as a torn-up sick note that required Andreas Lubitz to be off work on the day of the crash was found at his apartment, CNN reports.
Latest developments reported by CNN is summarized below:
‘• 8:45 a.m.: Medical notes were found in a waste bin in Germanwings Flight 9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz’s apartment in Dusseldorf, Germany, said Dusseldorf prosecutor Christoph Kumpa.
• 8:01 a.m.: The medical leave notes issued by a doctor for Lubitz included the day of the crash, the Dusseldorf public prosecutor’s office said.
• 8:01 a.m.: The prosecutor’s office did not say if the medical leave note related to a physical or a mental health issue but said Lubitz appeared to have been under treatment by a doctor for some time.
• 8:01 a.m.: The fact that Lubitz appears to have ripped up recent medical leave notes “leads to the preliminary conclusion that the deceased kept his illness secret from his employer and his professional environment.”
• 8:01 a.m.: Investigators found no goodbye letter, and no evidence of political or religious motivation, the prosecutor’s office said.’
The Royal College of Psychiatrists have however issued a statement about the GermanWings plane crash, stating that the public should exercise caution around the discussion of co-pilot Lubitz’ depression.
According to The Guardian, Professor Sir Simon Wessely, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“The loss of the GermanWings Airbus is a ghastly horror. Until the facts are established, we should be careful not to rush judgements. Should it be the case that one pilot had a history of depression, we must bear in mind that so do several million people in this country.
It is also true that depression is usually treatable. The biggest barrier to people getting help is stigma and fear of disclosure. In this country we have seen a recent fall in stigma, an increase in willingness to be open about depression and most important of all, to seek help.
We do not yet know what might be the lessons of the loss of the Airbus, but we caution against hasty decisions that might make it more, not less, difficult for people with depression to receive appropriate treatment. This will not help sufferers, families or the public.”