The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 appears to have researched suicide methods and cockpit door security in the days before he crashed the plane into the French Alps, killing everyone aboard, German prosecutors said yesterday.
Search terms found on a tablet computer at co-pilot Andreas Lubitz’s apartment in Duesseldorf provided the first evidence that his actions may have been premeditated.
After listening to the cockpit voice recorder, investigators believe Lubitz, 27, locked his captain out of the Airbus A320 cockpit on 24 March and deliberately sent the plane into a French mountain, killing all 150 passengers and crew.
Investigators said yesterday they had reviewed search terms from 16-23 March that were found on the browser memory of Lubitz’s computer, which hadn’t been erased.
The co-pilot “informed himself about types and ways of going about a suicide,” Duesseldorf prosecutors’ spokesman Ralf Herrenbrueck said in a statement.
“In addition, on at least one day, (Lubitz) concerned himself for several minutes with search terms about cockpit doors and their security precautions.”
Prosecutors didn’t specify which day that was and said they wouldn’t disclose the individual search terms that Lubitz used. They said personal correspondence and search terms on the tablet “support the conclusion that the machine was used by the co-pilot in the relevant period”.
French prosecutors, meanwhile, announced that the jet’s second black box had been found. The data recorder captures 25 hours of information on the position and condition of nearly every part of the plane.
The data recorder was “completely blackened” as though it had been burned and had been buried on a ravine “already explored several times,” Marseille Prosecutor Brice Robin said, adding that it may still be usable.
He said investigators had identified body parts from all 150 people aboard the Germanwings flight after finding and studying 2,854 pieces of remains. But he added it will still take a long time for investigators to match the body parts with DNA samples from families of the victims.
At least 40 cellphones have been found at the crash site in “very, very damaged” condition, Mr Robin said.
No video or audio from the cellphones of those aboard the plane has been released publicly.
But a French reporter who says he saw video from one cellphone described the excruciating sound of “screaming and screaming” as the plane flew full-speed into the mountain.
Questions persist about journalist Frederic Helbert’s reports in Paris-Match and in the tabloid Bild about the video that he says he saw, but Mr Helbert vigorously defended his reports.
He said he viewed the video thanks to an intermediary close to the crash investigation, but does not have a copy of it himself. It was shot from the back of the plane, he said, so “you cannot see their faces, but you can hear them screaming and screaming.” “No one is moving or getting up,” he said. “People understand something terrible is going to happen.”
Germanwings, meanwhile, said yesterday it had been unaware that Lubitz had suffered from depression during his pilot training. However, Lufthansa, Germanwings’ parent company, confirmed it knew six years ago he had suffered from an episode of “severe depression” before he finished his flight training.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS