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article imageCrash investigation focuses on Germanwings co-pilot

By Nathan Salant     Mar 26, 2015 in Travel
Nice - Authorities in Germany searched the Montabaur home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz on Thursday, looking for clues to why the young flier apparently flew a Germanwings jetliner into a mountain in southern France, killing all 150 passengers and crew.
Lubitz, a 28-year-old with 650 hours of flying experience, was at the controls of the Airbus 320 when it slammed into a mountain in the French Alps and broke into pieces in a ravine.
Authorities who analyzed the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder said still do not have any explanation for what transpired but believe Lubitz locked the more-experienced pilot out before setting the plane on a course to crash.
Officials said they had no indication that the crash was a result of terrorism, according to the Reuters news service.
Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin told Reuters that Lubitz’s actions were “for a reason we cannot fathom right now but which looks like intent to destroy this aircraft.”
But acquaintances in Germany said that would have been completely out of character for Lubitz, who was a relatively new pilot compared with more experienced fliers, who typically accumulate thousands of hours of flight time.
“I’m just speechless, I don’t have any explanation for this,” said Peter Ruecker, a member of the local flight club where Lubitz reportedly obtained his flying license.
“Knowing Andreas, this is just inconceivable -- he was just another boy like so many others here,” Ruecker said.
Lubitz’s family arrived in France along with the families of passengers who died in the crash but was kept apart from victims’ relatives, Reuters said.
Plans call for the mourners to be taken to makeshift chapels offering a view of the crash site, Reuters said.
A photo on Lubitz's Facebook page, which was later taken down, showed the young man visiting San Francisco and posing near the Golden Gate Bridge, Reuters said.
Crash investigators still are looking for the doomed plane’s flight data recorder, which would contain readings from the jet’s instruments and could explain why the pilot left the cockpit.
But pilots routinely leave the cockpit – to go to the bathroom, for example – when their flight reaches cruising altitude under German aviation law.
The pilot was unable to open the locked door despite his frantic efforts – heard on the voice recorder -- to regain entry, Reuters said.
Germanwings, a discount airline, said 72 Germans and 50 Spaniards were killed in the crash, the first accident in France since 2000.
In a prepared statement, Germanwings called the disaster "inconceivable" and said it was "stunned" by what had happened.
"We, together with the survivors, relatives and friends of the victims and many millions of other people, are shocked, grief-stricken, and utterly baffled by what has happened," the statement said..
Other victims included three Americans and residents of Morocco, Britain, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Colombia, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Iran and the Netherlands, Reuters said.
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