Investigators will now be looking to see if the apparently deliberate actions by the Germanwings co-pilot were inspired by any other recent disasters, including the ongoing mystery of Malaysian Airlines MH370.
French prosecutors have concluded that Andreas Lubitz put the Airbus A320 into a deliberate descent after waiting for the captain to leave the cockpit.
Evidence from the black box flight recorder suggests he refused to open the cockpit door and then flew the aircraft into the Alps, killing all those on board.
Suicide and mass murder remains one of the most likely theories surrounding the crash of flight MH370, which was lost without trace somewhere over the Southern Indian Ocean in March last year.
Malaysian police have identified Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah as the prime suspect, having cleared all other passengers of any suspicious motives.
Captain Shah was reportedly having domestic problems at the time of the crash and was deeply upset following the breakdown of his marriage.
Air crash investigators will now be looking at Mr Lubitz's background and personal situation to see whether there were any indicators that he was depressed or had reason to want to take his own life.
Pilot suicides are extremely rare but, terrifyingly, there is little anyone can do if the person at the controls decides to crash his aircraft.
In November 2013, Mozambique Airlines flight TM470 went down while on a routine flight between Maputo and Luanda in Angola, killing everyone on board.
There are chilling similarities between the circumstances of that crash and the German Wings disaster.
In the Mozambique Airlines crash, the co-pilot waited for the captain to go to the bathroom before locking the cockpit door.
The black-box flight recorder revealed how the captain desperately tried to get back into the cockpit as the co-pilot put the plane into a deliberate descent from its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet.
There was no Mayday call and it was later revealed that the co-pilot had marital problems and his son had recently died.
In 1999, an Egyptair flight between New York and Cairo crashed with the loss of 217 people.
Thirty minutes after taking off, the fully loaded Boeing 767 dropped from 36,000 feet to 19,000 feet in less than 30 seconds, causing the aircraft to break up.
The investigation showed that pilot Gamal al-Batouti muttered an Arabic phrase often associated with the moments before death - "I rely on God" - as the autopilot was disconnected.
US investigators concluded that the accident had been caused by pilot suicide, but this was something disputed by the Egyptian authorities.
In 1997, a Silk Air flight crashed while flying between Jakarta in Indonesia and Singapore with the loss of all 97 passengers and seven crew.
Again, the Americans concluded that the pilot had deliberately crashed the aircraft, but the Indonesian authorities said the cause of the accident could not be determined.
The aircraft, which was piloted by Singaporean Tsu Way Ming, fell from 35,000 feet into a river in one minute, a dive so fast that it reached supersonic speed before breaking up.
In 1994, a Royal Air Maroc flight crashed, killing all 44 people on board, in what has since been put down to a clear case of pilot suicide and murder.
Just after take-off from Agadir, the 32-year-old captain disconnected the autopilot and flew the plane into a mountainside.
In 1982, a Japanese pilot failed in his attempt to kill himself when he engaged the aircraft's reverse thrust as he came into land, causing the plane to crash into the sea.
The first officer and flight engineer tried to physically restrain him and could be heard on the cockpit voice recorder saying "Please stop" in Japanese.
Most of the 147 people on board survived, but 24 were killed.
The airline later admitted that the captain had been diagnosed with a "psychosomatic illness'' in late 1980, but had later been pronounced fit for duty. (© Daily Telegraph London)