Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who 'locked out captain and crashed flight 9525'?

Lubitz took sole control of the Airbus A320 as it started its descent

Heather Saul
Thursday 26 March 2015 13:14 GMT
A picture posted by Lubitz to Facebook in February 2013
A picture posted by Lubitz to Facebook in February 2013

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 themselves has been sparse thus far.

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.

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

"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.

A member of the LSC Westerwald e.V glider club, where Lubitz also renewed his glider pilots' licence in 2013, said he had a girlfriend at the time.

At a press conference this afternoon, the Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said Lubitz had taken a three month break during his training six years ago, but did not elaborate on what the break was for.

He said Lubitz was fit for flying without any restrictions. "His performance was without any criticism, nothing at all was striking," he added.

"In a company like ours, where we are so proud of our selection criteria and safety criteria, this is even more of a shock than it is for the general public.

"We have regular psychological checks and we also have a medical check once per year. We have a very high flung and sophisticated selection procedure. Later on during training and later on during professional life the person is observed. But there is no procedure anywhere in the world where the family and friends are interviewed."

Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr and Germanwings Managing Director Thomas Winkelmann (L) arrive for a news conference in Cologne Bonn airport

The captain of the doomed Germanwings plane has since been named by the same flying club as Patrick S, which The Independent understands stands for Sondenheimer, which said he had completed more than 6,000 flying hours.

A former colleague named by Europe 1 as 'Dieter' described Sondenheimer as a "very experienced pilot, very serious [...] he was one of the best".

He said Sondenheimer was married with two children. "He was a good man, kind, with a good sense of humour," he added.

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, Sondenheimer 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 crash site

"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.

Lubitz was alive "until the plane's final impact" with a mountain at 700km per hour, according to French prosecutors. Mr Robin 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.

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

He remembered him as "rather quiet" but friendly.

LBC reports that he also had a residence in Dusseldorf.

Additional reporting by agencies

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