Air crash investigators have discovered that Andreas Lubitz deliberately accelerated Germanwings Flight 9525 moments before it crashed in the southern French Alps.
The evidence comes from the airplane’s second flight data recorder, which was brought to the offices of the French BEA air accident investigation agency on Thursday.
The BEA team started opening operations as soon as it arrived.
“The initial readout shows that the pilot present in the cockpit used the autopilot to put the aeroplane into a descent towards an altitude of 100 ft,” a statement from the BEA reveals.
“Then, on several occasions during the descent, the pilot modified the autopilot setting to increase the speed of the aeroplane in descent.”
The agency added this new detail was based on initial readings and stressed that, “work is continuing to establish the precise history of the flight.”
The second black box recorder was discovered on Thursday by mountain rescue officer Alice Codefy, following a 9-day search of the remote, inaccessible terrain.
The black box records technical flight data and could provide vital insights into the final moments of the flight before it crashed on March 24, killing all 150 people on board.
“I found a pile of clothes, we were searching it, we were moving them downhill and while doing this I discovered a box,” Coldefy told reporters in Seyne-les-Alpes.
“The color of the box was the same as the gravel, of the black gravel, that is everywhere at the crash site.”
German prosecutors say evidence from the cockpit voice recorder suggests Lubitz, who had a long history of depression, locked the pilot out of the cockpit and deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps.
A search of Lubitz’s Duesseldorf apartment also revealed that he had recently searched the Internet for information on ways to commit suicide and lock cockpit doors.
“[He] concerned himself on one hand with medical treatment methods, on the other hand with types and ways of going about a suicide,” prosecutors’ spokesman Ralf Herrenbrueck said in the statement Tuesday.
“In addition, on at least one day (Lubitz) concerned himself with search terms about cockpit doors and their security precautions.”