Tags: andreas lubitz | rehearsed | descent | germanwings | crash

Andreas Lubitz, Germanwings Co-Pilot, Rehearsed Descent in Prior Flights

By    |   Wednesday, 06 May 2015 03:25 PM

Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who smashed a plane into the French Alps in March, practiced a rapid descent during a different flight just before the fatal crash, according to a report released Wednesday by investigation agency BEA.

The March 24 crash killed all 150 people aboard Germanwings Flight 9525 en route from Barcelona, Spain, to Dusseldorf, Germany, and prosecutors believe Lubitz intentionally crashed the plane. Cockpit voice recordings indicate that the captain tried to break down the cockpit door after Lubitz locked him out.

During the previous flight to Spain, Lubitz reportedly put the plane in descent and brought it back up while the pilot was away from the cockpit, ABC News reported.

The altitude dial was set at the lowest possible reading of 100 feet and then reset to the highest possible reading of 49,000 feet before stabilizing, the BBC reported.

The altered settings wouldn’t have led to dramatic changes onboard, so the pilot and others likely didn’t notice.

"The captain didn't realize at all, because the co-pilot's tests during the outgoing flight took place during a normal, preprogrammed descent and it never had an impact on the plane's trajectory," Remi Jouty, the director of BEA, said, according to The Associated Press.

John Cox, president of Safety Operating Systems, called the actions unusual.

"It's clear that it's a very unusual act," he told the AP. "I've never seen it done, and it is the same methodology he used to fly the airplane into the ground. Was he practicing? I think that certainly is a possibility."

Jouty agreed that it appeared to be a rehearsal of sorts.

"I can't speculate on what was happening inside his head; all I can say is that he changed this button to the minimum setting of 100 feet and he did it several times," he told Reuters. "These very brief actions on the previous flight were a sort of rehearsal of the maneuver."

About 30 seconds after the pilot left the cockpit during the fatal flight, Lubitz set the plane to descend to 100 feet, switched another dial to speed up, and failed to answer warnings, including 11 attempts by air traffic controllers to contact the jet.

While Lubitz’s professional level was judged at “above standard,” the Germanwings parent company refused to renew his medical certificate twice in 2009 when he was being treated for depression, Reuters said.

New recommendations on cockpit doors and the handling of pilots’ medical records are expected when the BEA issues its final report in about a year.

Twitter users were rattled by the report’s findings.




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Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who smashed a plane into the French Alps in March, practiced a rapid descent during a different flight just before the fatal crash, according to a report released Wednesday by investigation agency BEA.
andreas lubitz, rehearsed, descent, germanwings, crash
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2015-25-06
Wednesday, 06 May 2015 03:25 PM
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