WATCH ABOVE: Germanwings co-pilot took break from training 6 years ago
TORONTO — Horror turned to disbelief as news came of a plane crash over the French Alps, 150 on board with no survivors, and a seemingly intentional crash by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz.
Audio recordings recovered from the flight indicate a friendly, professional exchange between Lubitz and the pilot, before the pilot left the cockpit. It seems Lubitz then locked out the pilot, and deliberately crashed the plane.
Andreas Guenter Lubitz was 27 years old. He was from Montabaur, a German town about 80 kilometres northwest of Frankfurt.
Acquaintances in Montabaur said Lubitz showed no signs of depression when they saw him last fall as he renewed his glider pilot’s license, The Associated Press reports.
“He was happy he had the job with Germanwings and he was doing well,” said a member of the glider club, Peter Ruecker, who watched him learn to fly. “He gave off a good feeling.”
Lubitz had obtained his glider pilot’s license as a teenager, and was accepted as a Lufthansa pilot trainee after finishing a tough German college preparatory school, Ruecker said. He described Lubitz as a “rather quiet” but friendly young man.
“Andreas became a member of the club as a youth to fulfill his dream of flying,” said a death notice for Lubitz, posted on the LSC Westerwald flight club website, of which he was a member.
“He succeeded in fulfilling his dream, a dream that he paid for with his life,” reads the statement, which goes on to say the club is grieving for Lubitz and the other 149 people on the flight.
The website has since become inaccessible.
Lufthansa said the co-pilot joined Germanwings in September 2013, directly after training, and had flown 630 hours.
Lubitz was also a runner, and took part in local races.
On Thursday, French authorities said Lubitz, a German national, had never been flagged as a terrorist. Prosecutor Brice Robin declined to discuss the co-pilot’s religion or ethnic background.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said authorities had also checked intelligence and police databases on the day of the crash and Lufthansa said they provided regular security checks that turned up nothing suspicious about the co-pilot.
“According to our knowledge at this point, and after comparing the information we have, there is no terrorist background for him as a person,” de Maiziere said.
*With files from the Associated Press