Germanwings crash: Co-pilot Lubitz 'accelerated descent'

Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz (file photo from 2009) Image copyright AFP

Data from the second 'black box' flight recorder belonging to the Germanwings plane that crashed in the Alps suggests that the co-pilot deliberately accelerated its descent, French investigators say.

They say Andreas Lubitz modified the automatic pilot system several times to increase the speed of descent.

The information they recovered also confirms earlier findings that Lubitz deliberately crashed the plane.

All 150 people on board died.

The plane had been flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf on 24 March.

'Pilot locked out'

The second flight recorder, recovered on Thursday, showed that "the pilot in the cockpit used the automatic pilot to put the plane on a descent towards an altitude of 100ft (30m)", the French BEA crash investigation agency said in a statement.

"Then several times the pilot modified the automatic pilot settings to increase the speed of the plane as it descended," it added.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Rescuers found the second black box flight recorder blackened and buried in the soil of the Alps

Earlier findings from the cockpit voice recorder suggested Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit.

On Thursday, German prosecutors said the co-pilot had researched suicide methods and the security of cockpit doors on the internet the week before the crash.

Germanwings also said it was unaware that Lubitz, 27, had experienced depression while he was training to be a pilot.

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Media captionRichard Westcott on what we know from the cockpit voice recorder

Lufthansa confirmed on Tuesday that it knew six years ago that the co-pilot had suffered from an episode of "severe depression'' before he finished his flight training.

``We didn't know this,'' said Vanessa Torres, a spokeswoman for Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings, which hired Lubitz in September 2013.

The second "black box" recovered is the flight data recorder (FDR) which holds technical information on the time of radio transmissions and the plane's acceleration, airspeed, altitude and direction, plus the use of auto-pilot.

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said it was found near a ravine and was not discovered immediately because it was the same colour as the rocks.

He said 150 separate DNA profiles had been isolated from the crash site but he stressed that did not mean all the victims had been identified.

Mr Robin added that 40 mobile phones had been also been recovered and would be analysed in a laboratory, although were "heavily damaged".

The final minutes

Lubitz began the jet's descent at 10:31 (09:31 GMT) on 24 March, shortly after the A320 had made its final contact with air traffic control.

Little more than eight minutes later, it had crashed into a mountain near Seyne-les-Alpes.

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