[Avionics Today 03-26-2015] During a press conference on Thursday, March 26, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr confirmed that evidence from the Germanwings flight 4U 9525 investigation leads to a most likely conclusion that the co-pilot purposely crashed the aircraft. Spohr’s comments came following an evaluation of the aircraft’s Cockpit Voice Recorder was completed by the French air accident investigation agency, Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA).
The site of the Germanwings A320 crash. Photo: BEA.
“The recordings of the voice recorder suggest that the captain, after reaching cruising flight, left the cockpit for a short space of time and unfortunately could not come back afterwards,” said Spohr. “It appears to be true that the colleague left in the cockpit, the co-pilot, denied him access to the cockpit to initiate the deadly descent into the French Alps.”
Brice Robin, the French prosecutor leading the investigation into flight 9525, backed Spohr’s statements that the CVR recording provides indication that the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, appears to have locked Captain Patrick Sonderheimer out of the cockpit during the aircraft’s descent and crash into the Alps. BEA reviewed the transcript of the last 30 minutes of the flight in its entirety.
The first 20 minutes of that section of the recording produced “completely normal” conversation between the two pilots. Then, according to Robin, the co-pilot was asked to take control of the A320 while the pilot left the cockpit. “At that moment the co-pilot was alone at the controls. It is then that the co-pilot uses the flight monitoring system button to put the plane into descend mode.,” Brice said during a press conference in France following the BEA review of the CVR recording.
Investigators are still searching for the aircraft’s Flight Data Recorder (FDR), while also trying to discover any possible motive for the co-pilot to crash the airplane deliberately.