MIAMI — The latest relevations over Germanwings flight 4U9525 have changed the focal point of the investigation to the pilots, as French and German authorities confirmed that the Captain of the aircraft was locked out of the cockpit, and that the copilot deliberately denied the access and ordered the descent of the airliner, causing its crash in the French Alps. The co-pilot was left alone in the co-pilot, opposed to the common industry practice in the U.S. and other countries, wherein a single pilot is never left alone in the flight deck, and joined by the cabin crew when required
The data from the cockpit voice recorder analyzed in BEA laboratories in Paris, shows that the initial part of the flight from Barcelona (BCN) to Düsseldorf (DUS), evolved normally. However, problems began when the Captain of the flight left the cockpit and was unable to re-enter. According to the New York Times, the co-pilot ignored the appeals of his colleague to open the cabin door, all this happening during the descent before the crash that killed all 150 aboard. The CVR recorded no mayday or distress calls, just an audible breathing noise from the co-pilot and the attempts of the Captain trying to re-enter the cockpit. The CVR also recorded the very last moments of the flight, including the initial impact.
Germanwings informed that the captain of the flight had been in service for Lufthansa for ten years of experience and had more than 6,000 flying hours on the Airbus A320. In the case of the co-pilot, identified as Andreas Lubitz, joined the airline in September 2013, and had logged 630 hours on the type. All 6 crew were German nationals.
A press conference with Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann expressed that they are “speechless, shocked, and dismayed”. Spohr went on to say “We have to admit the plane was crashed on purpose.” He defended the medical examination procedures applied by the group to its pilots, albeit admitted that no psychological tests are made. “If a person kills himself and also 149 other people, another word should be used — not suicide”, Spohr said.
As French Rescue Teams still in the search of the missing Flight Data Recorder (FDR), relatives of the victims arrived to Marseille to travel near the crash site, where a makeshift chapel has been set up, and a team of psychologists is available to provide support. Lufthansa operated two special flights for family members, one from Barcelona and one from Düsseldorf.
This is most serious blow for Germanwings and parent company Lufthansa, who have suffered from a long string of labor disputes over the last few years, including last week. Pilots have already gone on strike for six days in 2015.