herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Andreas Lubitz researched suicide and cockpit doors in days before crash

Andreas Lubitz
Andreas Lubitz

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz appears to have researched suicide methods and cockpit-door security days before deliberately crashing his Germanwings plane into the French Alps, German prosecutors have said.

Evidence from the recovered black box cockpit voice recorder indicated that Lubitz (27) locked his captain out of the cockpit before putting the Airbus A320 into a descent from which it crashed into a mountainside killing all 150 on board, including three Britons.

Dusseldorf prosecutors said that investigators found a tablet computer at Andreas Lubitz's apartment. They said they were able to reconstruct searches from March 16 to March 23.

Prosecutors' spokesman Ralf Herrenbrueck said that searches included those for medical treatment and suicide methods.

On at least one day, the co-pilot looked at search terms involving cockpit doors and their security methods.

The latest development in the inquiry into last week's disaster came as French prosecutors announced that the plane's second black box - feared lost for ever - had been recovered yesterday.

This second box is the flight data recorder which will enable those investigating the disaster to check exactly how the plane's systems were working in the moments before the crash.

procedures

Earlier yesterday, Germany's transport minister Alexander Dobrindt said cockpit door-opening procedures were to be studied by a special task force.

In last week's crash, the door mechanism was such that Lubitz was able to keep the door locked despite an emergency code being entered from the outside.

Also, in line with regulations introduced after the 9/11 attacks in the USA, the door was strong enough to withstand all attempts by the captain to break in, including - it is thought - the use of an axe.

Mr Dobrindt announced the setting up of the task force which would also look, among other things, at whether extra checks on pilots' mental health should be introduced.

In the case of Lubitz, Germanwings parent company Lufthansa said it knew six years ago that Lubitz suffered from a "serious depressive episode".

Investigators have found and studied 2,854 body parts, Marseille Prosecutor Brice Robin said. But he added it will still take a long time for investigators to match the body parts with DNA samples from families of the victims.

Robin also gave details about the discovery of the second black box.

He said it was found by a gendarme buried on the left side of a ravine "already explored several times".

He described the flight data recorder as "completely blackened" as though it had been burned, but said it was "possibly usable".

Robin said 40 cellphones had been found at that crash site in a "very, very damaged" condition, without referring to the reports by Paris Match and Bild that footage of the final moments of the crash had been recovered.

hnews@herald.ie

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