What we know about the Germanwings co-pilot

Author thumbnail
TT/The Local - [email protected]
What we know about the Germanwings co-pilot
Andreas Lubitz, who is suspected of crashing the Germanwings plane into the French Alps. Photo: Twitter

Here's what we know about the Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who French prosecutors suspect deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 on board.


Andreas Lubitz, a 28-year-old German pilot, was registered as living with his parents in Montabaur, western Germany. 

French prosecutors now suspect he deliberately crashed a Germanwings plane into the French Alps on Tuesday after "purposefully" locking the pilot out of the cockpit and refusing to let him back in.

According to prosecutor Brice Robin, Lubitz then "voluntarily" initiated the descent of the flight towards the French Alps where it crashed near the village of Barcelonnette, killing all 150 people on board.

According to reports the German pilot had 630 hours of experience (or roughly one year's worth) under his belt, compared to the ten years of his pilot. 

Exact details of what happened in the cockpit during the 11-minute descent remain unknown, but it is understood that Lubitz's breathing could be heard while the captain was desperately trying to break through the cockpit door. 

IN PICTURES: See a timeline of the crash 

Lubitz had no terrorist profile, and prosecutor Robin Brice stressed on Thursday that there were no terror suspicions. 

As details emerge about Lubitz, a statement has been released from a flying club of which he was a member.

"Andreas became a member of the association as a teenager, he wanted to realise his dream of flying. He began as a gliding student and made it to become a pilots on an Airbus 320," the statement read.

"He was able to fulfill his dream, the dream he has now so dearly paid for with his life. The members of the LSC Westerwald mourn Andreas and the other 149 victims of the disaster on March 24, 2015.

Our deepest sympathy goes out to the families. We will not forget Andreas."

LIVE: Follow every development of the plane crash

A member of a glider club, Peter Ruecker, who knew Lubitz said: "He gave off a good feeling. He was happy he had the job with Germanwings and he was doing well."

Ruecker said Lubitz received his glider pilot's license as a teenager and was later accepted as a Lufthansa pilot trainee.

He remembered Lubitz as "rather quiet" but friendly.

He qualified as a pilot at the Lufthansa training centre in the northern city of Bremen and began flying for Germanwings immediately after completing the course. 

Lubitz's Facebook profile includes an unremarkable selection of interests and “Likes”, including the Lufthansa half-marathon, a local climbing wall and a group called “Things a pilot wouldn't say”. The AFP news agency reported that he was an avid runner who often took part in local races. 

He appears to have been an electronic music fan, following the pages of German artists Schiller and Paul Kalkbrenner as well as French DJ David Guetta.

N24 a 24 hour German news channel has interviewed a Lufthansa co-worker who described Lubitz as "normal, not noticeable and quiet."

It is understood that the 28-year-old also had a residence in Dusseldorf, the destination of the flight that crashed on Tuesday. 

The Facebook profile page of Lubitz appeared to have been taken down on Thursday, although it remains unclear who took the page down. 

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said Lubitz took a brief break from his pilot training for a few months in 2009. While he couldn't share the medical reason for the break, he insisted that the returning trainee would have gone through more stringent medical tests to ensure he was fit to continue.
FAZ.NET has spoken with the mother of an ex-classmate of Lubitz. The woman said that Lubitz had confided in her daughter a few years ago that he had taken a break from his training. "He apparently was suffering from burnout or depression," said the woman.
The daughter last saw him before Christmas, when he had seemed totally normal. "I can only image the whole thing was a knee-jerk reaction. It can't have been planned, although it was actually like a killing spree," the woman added.
Friends of Lubitz have only had positive things to say about the pilot.
"He was a completely normal guy," Klaus Radke, the head of the local flight club where Lubitz received his first flying license told Reuters. 
"I got to know him, or I should say reacquainted with him, as a very nice, fun and polite young man."
"I'm just speechless. I don't have any explanation for this. Knowing Andreas, this is just inconceivable for me," added Peter Ruecker, a long-time member of the flight club who knew Lubitz well.
"Andreas was a very nice young man who got his training here and was a member of the club," Ruecker told Reuters. "He was a lot of fun, even though he was perhaps sometimes a bit quiet. He was just another boy like so many others here."



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also