Germanwings pilot practiced fatal dive

(CBS News)-  Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz practiced his fatal descent hours before he locked his captain out of the cockpit of their Airbus A320 and rammed it into the side of a mountain, killing himself and everyone else on board in an apparent suicide flight.

A preliminary report published Wednesday by French air accident investigation agency BEA said Lubitz carried out a “controlled descent that lasted for minutes and for which there was no aeronautical justification” during his flight from Dusseldorf to Barcelona on March 24.

As CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata reported, on the return flight later that same day, Flight 9525 disappeared from radar screens over the French Alps. Prosecutors have said Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit after he went to the lavatory, and then deliberately set the flight controls to a steep but controlled descent into the side of a mountain.

The captain can be heard on cockpit voice recordings demanding to be let back in and trying to break down the reinforced door.

Lubitz and all 149 others on board the plane were killed in the crash, which left the jet splintered into thousands of pieces on the side of a steep, rocky mountain.

It was precisely the fatal maneouver that Lubitz practiced during the first flight on the 24th, according to the BEA report — and not just once.

“Several altitude selections towards 100 ft were recorded during descent on the flight that preceded the accident flight, while the co-pilot was alone in the cockpit,” the report said.

Five years ago Federal Aviation Administration officials questioned Lubitz’ mental fitness, but they awarded him a U.S. pilot license after his German doctor said he had fully recovered from severe depression, government records show.

The records, posted online in late April by the FAA in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, show Andreas Lubitz applied for a U.S. pilot license while he was employed by Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, and was training to be an airline pilot at a flight school in Phoenix in 2010. As part of the application, he initially submitted a medical form to the FAA asserting he had no mental disorders. He then resubmitted the form acknowledging he had been treated for severe depression from 2008 to 2009.

The FAA initially sent Lubitz a letter warning that his license application could be denied and giving him 30 days to provide a letter from his doctor describing his treatment and his current condition. The license was granted after he provided letters from his doctor describing his treatment and saying he had recovered.

Lubitz had suffered an episode of severe depression because he was unable to cope with “modified living conditions,” according to the letters. Lubitz was treated with two drugs, Cipralex and Mirtazapin, which, along with therapy, “enabled him to develop sufficient resources for getting on with similar situations in the future,” the doctor, whose name was blacked out by the FAA, said in one letter.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Remarkable Women

Trending Stories

Covid-19 County by County tracker
Download Our App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss