Germanwings Alps plane crash: Pilot Andreas Lubitz 'interrupted his training six years ago'

Lufthansa, of which Germanwings, is a subsidiary, says it is looking into why the 28-year-old's pilot training was halted

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The Independent Online

Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings pilot who French prosecutors say deliberately crashed a plane into the French Alps killing 150 people, interrupted his training halfway through, it has emerged.

Speaking at a press conference in Cologne, the chief executive of Germanwings' parent airline Lufthansa said the reason why Lubitz decided to take a break while learning to be a pilot could be significant to an ongoing investigation into the disaster.

Carsten Spohr said the airline accepted that Flight 9525 was crashed "on purpose, presumably by the co-pilot of the plane".

French prosecutors named the co-pilot as 28-year-old Andreas Lubitz - and while Spohr refused to confirm this, he did discuss details of the pilot's training. He said: "The co-pilot interrupted his training six years ago - I would be interested to know why.

"I cannot tell you anything about the reasons of this interruption, but anybody who interrupts the training has to do a lot of tests so the competence and fitness would be checked again."

Lufthansa had previously said the co-pilot had logged just 630 hours' flying time, and that he only joined Germanwings, straight from training, in September 2013.

Spohr said that Lufthansa would work with authorities to review the way it trains, tests and vets its pilots.

"We have every confidence in this training process that has been tried and tested over decades, but we will look at what we can do better with the selection and training," he said.

But he nonetheless insisted that the company's security protocols - and in particular the fact that pilots can be left alone in the cockpit, able to lock it from the inside - would not be changing as a direct result of the "single incident".

The Airbus A320 was flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf when it began to descend from cruising altitude of 38,000 feet after losing radio contact with air traffic controllers. All 150 people on board died when the plane slammed into the southern French Alps, where an operation to recover bodies and debris could take weeks.