On Thursday, it was determined that the co-pilot of the Germanwings jet barricaded himself in the cockpit and intentionally rammed the plane full speed into the French Alps, ignoring the captain’s frantic pounding on the door and the screams of terror from passengers, a prosecutor said Thursday.
In a split second, all 150 people aboard the plane were dead.
Andreas Lubitz’s “intention (was) to destroy this plane,” Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said, laying out the horrifying conclusions French investigators reached after listening to the last minutes of Tuesday’s Flight 9525 from the plane’s black box voice data recorder.
The co-pilot was identified as Andreas Lubitz, 28. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr described Lubitz as 100 percent fit to fly a plane, meaning he didn’t show signs of mental illness or distress, reported CNN. “There was never any doubt over his competence or skills,” Spohr said. He added: “It’s going to take a long time before we can unravel everything here
Citing information from the plane’s recovered black box, Robin said that while Lubitz was alone in the cockpit. The pilot of the plane attempted to get back in.
He said there was “absolute silence in the cockpit” while the pilot tried to break into the cockpit.
“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,” Robin told reporters.
Lubitz–from in Montabaur, Germany–never showed any signs that he would crash a plane.
“He was happy he had the job with Germanwings and he was doing well,” a longtime flight club member, Peter Ruecker, told CBS News. “He was very happy. He gave off a good feeling.”
After the crash, the LSC Westerwald flight club posted a statement:
“As a youth, Andreas became a member of the club, he wanted to see his dream of flying fulfilled. He started as a gliding student and managed to become a pilot of the Airbus A320. He succeeded in fulfilling his dream, a dream that he paid for with his life.
“The members of LSC Westerwald are grieving for Andreas and all the other 149 victims of the catastrophe of March 24, 2015.
“Our deepest condolences to the relatives.
“We will not forget Andreas.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the conclusions brought the tragedy to a “new, simply incomprehensible dimension.”
The prosecutor said there was no indication of terrorism, and did not elaborate on why investigators do not suspect a political motive. He said they are instead focusing on the co-pilot’s “personal, family and professional environment” to try to determine why he did it.
The Airbus A320 was flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf when it lost radio contact with air traffic controllers and began dropping from its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet. The prosecutor said Lubitz did not say a word as he set the plane on an eight-minute descent into the craggy French mountainside that pulverized the plane.
The director of France’s aviation investigative agency says there currently is not the “slightest explanation” for what caused the Germanwings plane to lose altitude and crash in the Alps.
Remi Jouty says the investigation could take weeks or even months.
Jouty says the plane was flying “until the end” — slamming into the mountain, not breaking up in the air.
He says the final communication from the plane was a routine message about permission to continue on its route.
French President Francois Hollande says the case of the second black box has been found, but not its contents.
Speaking alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Hollande promised on Wednesday that French investigators would do everything to determine the cause of the crash.
The missing black box was the flight data recorder, which captures 25 hours’ worth of information on the position and condition of almost every major part in a plane.
Hollande also said there could be no rescue because it was certain that all 150 people aboard the plane had perished in Tuesday’s crash in the southern French Alps.
A second group of German exchange students visiting the northeastern Spanish town of Llinars del Valles — where 16 high school students that were on the crashed plane stayed — has left for Germany as planned Wednesday.
But some decided to travel by train instead of by plane following the accident.
Llinars del Valles mayor Marti Pujol i Casals said the Institut Ginebro school had informed him that the students had been asked which way they wanted to travel and that some had decided to fly as originally planned while others decided to take the train. He gave no details as to how many traveled by train.
The students were attending a different school in the town from the one attended by the students killed Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.