The prosecutor examining a Germanwings plane crash that killed 150 people on Tuesday has opened an investigation for voluntary manslaughter, as it increasingly seems that the only co-pilot left in the cockpit at the end of the flight wanted to “destroy the aircraft.” The pilot was a 28-year-old German man named Andreas Lubitz, and he appeared to be conscious until the plane crashed. After Lubitz's co-pilot left the cockpit, "it was absolute silence in the cockpit," according to prosecutor Brice Robin. Lubitz's breathing is heard on the recording, suggesting he was alive and alert at the time of the crash. In the last few moments of audio, Robin added, screaming could be heard.
The German transport minister agreed with Robin in a press conference on Thursday: “The theory of a deliberate crash is plausible." Lubitz had 630 hours of flight experience, and was a member of the flying club Luftsportclub Westerwald, which said that he "became a member of the association and wanted his dream of flying to be realized." According to AFP, the deceased captain of the plane's crew, who has not been identified, had more than 6,000 hours of flight experience.
A senior military official investigating the crash told the New York Times that audio from Flight 9525's voice recorder reveals one pilot is heard leaving the cockpit, then there's increasingly frantic banging on the door as the Airbus A320 inexplicably begins to descend into the French Alps. Within ten minutes, the plane dropped from an altitude of 38,000 feet to about 6,000 and crashed into the mountainside — all while one pilot was apparently locked out of the cockpit and the other gave no response. "The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer," the investigator said. "And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer." He added, "You can hear he is trying to smash the door down."
Robin continued, "At this moment, in light of investigation, the interpretation we can give at this time is that the co-pilot through voluntary abstention refused to open the door of the cockpit to the commander, and activated the button that commands the loss of altitude."
There have been a number of plane crashes attributed to pilot suicide, and that regarding this case, asking if Lubitz committed suicide "is a legitimate question to ask." Robin said there was nothing to indicate that the crash was a terrorist attack, but Lufthansa CEO said Carston Spuhr added that "when one person is responsible for 150 lives, it is more than suicide."