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Sunday 22 October 2017

Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who 'intentionally' set plane on descent?

The co-pilot of the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps has been named by French authorities as German national Andreas Lubitz.

The information released by authorities investigating the crash about the pilots has been sparse.

However, what we do know about Lubitz is that the 28-year-old was from Montabaur, a town in the district seat of the Westerwaldkreis in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, according to a local flight club.

The LSC club, where he was a member, posted a death notice on their website naming him.

 “Andreas became a member of the club as a youth to fulfill his dream of flying,” it said.

"The members of the LSC Westerwald mourn Andreas and the other 149 victims of the disaster. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the victims of all nationalities."

His full name is believed to be Andreas Günter Lubitz and he is reported to have completed just 630 hours of flying time.

The captain of the doomed Germanwings plane has since been named as Patrick Sonderheimer by the same flying club, which said he had completed more than 6,000 flying hours on A 320 aircraft.

French prosecutors say the co-pilot, not the pilot, was alone at the helm when the Germanwings plane began its descent.

According to the Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin, whose briefing contradicts reports from a French aviation official in Le Monde earlier, Sonderheimer left the flightdeck, presumably to go to the toilet.

He returned to find that he was locked out and banged on the door as the co-pilot accelerated the descent of the plane "intentionally".

"The intention was to destroy this plane," he continued. Mr Robin said passengers could be heard screaming just before the plane crashed into the alps.

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The crash site

Lubitz was alive "until the plane's final impact" with a mountain at 700km per hour, according to French prosecutors. French prosecutors said his breathing was "normal" in the final few moments of the crash and there was almost complete silence from the cockpit.

Lubitz was recognised by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in September 2013, with inclusion in the FAA Airmen Certification Database, according to an article published by the Aviation Business Gazette.

In Montabaur, acquaintances told the Associated Press Lubitz showed no signs of depression when they saw him last fall as he renewed his glider pilot's license.

"He was happy he had the job with Germanwings and he was doing well," said a member of the glider club, Peter Ruecker. "He gave off a good feeling."

Mr Ruecker said Lubitz received his glider pilot's license as a teenager and was later accepted as a Lufthansa pilot trainee.

He remembered Lubitz as "rather quiet" but friendly.

LBC reports that he also had a residence in Dusseldorf, but was known to stay with his parents in his hometown of Montabaur.

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