He 'deliberately crashed' flight 9525. But who was Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz?

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz “deliberately crashed” Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps on Tuesday, authorities have revealed. But who was Lubitz, and what drove him to do the unthinkable?

A French prosecutor has identified Andreas Lubitz as the co-pilot of the Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps this week, killing 150 people.

On Thursday the prosecutor in charge of the crash probe, Brice Robin, said voice-recorder evidence indicated that Mr Lubitz locked himself inside the cockpit, preventing the pilot from reentering, then initiated the plane’s fatal descent.

Related content: German co-pilot “show a desire to want to destroy” the flight.

The 30-minute voice recording retrieved from the black box “clearly” suggests that Andreas Lubitz “profited from the captain’s absence” after he left the cockpit to go to the toilet, Mr Robin said.

He added that the co-pilot “showed a desire to want to destroy” the plane.

Today, as the world struggles to comprehend how a qualified and seemingly ambitious young man could have masterminded such a horrifying event, details have begun to emerge about the 27-year-old German national.

A man believed to be co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. (Photo: Facebook)

Lubitz had first worked as a teenage glider pilot, enrolling in the local air strip and gliding club, the LSC Westerwald flight club, right near his family home in Montabaur, western Germany.

An unnamed neighbour told the local newspaper Rhein-Zeitung: “His big dream was always to be a pilot… He pursued that determinedly and made it.”

Members of that hometown flight club said the co-pilot appeared to be happy with his job at the airline. Peter Rücker, 64-year-old who works in maintenance at the flight club, told the Wall Street Journal that Lubitz had a girlfriend and was “rather quiet but friendly” as a teenager.

“He wasn’t an extroverted guy,” Rücker said. But “he was very responsible and fit in well (at the club),” he said.


Related content: German co-pilot “show a desire to want to destroy” the flight.

Meanwhile Klaus Radke, the LSC Westerwald flight club’s chairman, told the Wall Street Journal he didn’t believe Lubitz intentionally put the Germanwings flight intentionally into a descent.

At the age of 20, a few months after completing school, Lubitz enrolled in the Lufthansa pilot training centre in Bremen and immediately after completing his training, started working for Lufthansa’s budget carrier Germanwings in September 2013.

A Lufthansa spokesperson said he had just 630 hours of flight experience at the time of the fatal crash — but the Daily Mail reports he was highly regarded as a pilot, having won an award from the Federal Aviation Administration in 2013 for his flying skills.

In a revelation that will form part of the investigation into the tragic crash, it has emerged that Lubitz was forced to postpone his pilot training in 2008 because of mental health problems, with a friend saying he was ‘in depression’.

Lubitz took several months off work and had to retrain to join the firm, but airline bosses insisted he was “100 per cent fit to fly” after passing all medical tests.

Lubitz, pictured on the front page of the Daily Mail in the UK.

Tony Newton told the Daily Mail there have been examples of pilots committing suicide by crashing their planes, such as the Silk Air disaster in 1997 and the Egypt Air Crash in 1999.

“It is almost certainly either ideological or the result of depression. It’s too early to say for sure, but the options are narrowing,” he said. “Outside of that, there would have to be significant new information for us to draw a different conclusion. It’s a pretty dark thing to have happened.”

The AFP reports that German authorities are expected to release information about Lubitz later this week.