Friday 30 September 2016

Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz practised 'descent' on earlier flight same day as crash

Published 06/05/2015 | 11:36

Andreas Lubitz
Andreas Lubitz
Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was seeing an “astonishing” number of doctors before he crashed a plane into the French Alps, a leaked medical report has revealed (AP Photo/Michael Mueller)

The co-pilot on Germanwings Flight 4525 tried a controlled descent on another flight that morning, French air accident investigators have said.

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The BEA investigation agency said in a report released today that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz repeatedly set the plane into a descent, then brought it back up again on a flight on the same A320 jet from Dusseldorf to Barcelona.

Rescue workers and investigators, seen in this picture made available to the media by the French Interior Ministry April 1, 2015, work near debris from wreckage at the crash site of a Germanwings Airbus A320, near Seyne-les-Alpes
Rescue workers and investigators, seen in this picture made available to the media by the French Interior Ministry April 1, 2015, work near debris from wreckage at the crash site of a Germanwings Airbus A320, near Seyne-les-Alpes
French Gendarme Bruno Hermignies stands by a bulldozer clearing a path to the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 in the mountains, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps, March 30, 2015. REUTERS/Claude Paris/Pool
French Gendarme Bruno Hermignies stands by a bulldozer clearing a path to the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 in the mountains, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps, March 30, 2015. REUTERS/Claude Paris/Pool
French rescue worker inspects the debris from the Germanwings Airbus A320 at the site of the crash, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps March 29, 2015. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
A French rescue worker inspects the debris from the Germanwings Airbus A320 at the site of the crash, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps. Photo: Reuters
A French rescue worker inspects the debris from the Germanwings Airbus A320 at the site of the crash, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps March 29, 2015. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
Rescue workers are seen near debris at the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps. Photo: Reuters
Debris from the Germanwings Airbus A320 is seen at the site of the crash, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps March 29, 2015. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
French Gendarme Bruno Hermignies stands by a bulldozer clearing a path to the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 in the mountains, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps. Photo: Reuters
French Gendarme Bruno Hermignies stands by a bulldozer clearing a path to the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 in the mountains, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps. Photo: Reuters
A French rescue worker inspects the debris from the Germanwings Airbus A320 at the site of the crash, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps March 29, 2015. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
Rescue workers are seen near debris at the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps, March 30, 2015. REUTERS/Claude Paris/Pool
A French rescue worker inspects the debris from the Germanwings Airbus A320 at the site of the crash, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps March 29, 2015. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
Rescue workers are seen near debris at the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps, March 30, 2015. REUTERS/Claude Paris/Pool
Rescue workers (L) are seen near debris at the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps, March 30, 2015. REUTERS/Claude Paris/Pool

The report says the pilot appeared to have left the cockpit during that flight as well.

Read more here: Germanwings co-pilot 'practiced descent on outbound flight before crash'  

Prosecutors say Lubitz intentionally crashed the plane on its return flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf on March 24, killing all 150 on board.

Cockpit data shows Lubitz put the earlier flight into descent mode five times in a four-and-a-half minute period.

The report only outlines interim findings, and BEA said it is continuing to look at the "systemic failings that may have led to this accident or similar events".

Read more here: US Federal Aviation Administration officials questioned the mental fitness of Germanwings pilot five years before the tragedy  

The investigators said their main focus is on "the current balance between medical confidentiality and flight safety" and the "compromises" made on security after the September 11 attacks in the US, notably on cockpit door locking systems.

Lufthansa spokesman Helmut Tolksdorf said the airline has not yet had time to analyse the new details released today and plans no immediate comment. Lufthansa is the parent company of Germanwings.

Read more here: Plane crash 'unbelievable horror'

The report showed the pilot left the cockpit on the Dusseldorf-Barcelona flight for about four-and-a-half minutes.

Shortly after the pilot left, the "selected altitude" of the flight changed repeatedly, including several times as low as 100ft.

A chart released by the BEA showed the plane did not descend sharply during this period, suggesting that passengers and crew might not have noticed any change.

It would be highly unusual for a pilot to repeatedly set a plane for such a low altitude for no apparent reason.

The BEA report did not analyse why Lubitz repeatedly tried to descend the plane.

French prosecutors are conducting a separate criminal investigation into the crash.

Press Association

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