Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Co-Pilot Crashed German Plane Intentionally, Prosecutors Say

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Co-Pilot Crashed German Plane Intentionally, Prosecutors Say

Article excerpt

MONTABAUR, Germany * Andreas Lubitz never appeared anything but thrilled to have landed a pilot's job with Germanwings, according to those who helped him learn to fly as a teenager in this town in the forested hills of western Germany.

On Thursday, French prosecutors said Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, had "intentionally" crashed the jet into the side of a mountain Tuesday in the French Alps, killing all 150 people aboard.

Members of his hometown flight club in Montabaur, where he renewed his glider license last fall, said that Lubitz, 27, appeared to be happy with the job he had at the airline, a low-cost carrier in the Lufthansa Group.

"He was happy he had the job with Germanwings, and he was doing well," said longtime club member Peter Ruecker, who watched Lubitz learn to fly. "He was very happy. He gave off a good feeling."

Club chairman Klaus Radke rejects the Marseille prosecutors' conclusion that Lubitz deliberately put the Germanwings flight into a descent and dove it straight into the French Alps after the pilot had briefly left the cockpit.

"I don't see how anyone can draw such conclusions before the investigation is completed," he said.

According to Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr, Lubitz trained in Bremen, Germany, and in Phoenix in the United States starting in 2008. He said there was a "several-month" gap in his training six years ago but he couldn't say what the reason was for that.

After the break, Lubitz "not only passed all medical tests but also his flight training, all flying tests and checks," Spohr told reporters, saying the co-pilot was "100 percent fit to fly, without any limitations."

Lubitz had logged 630 hours' flight time by the day of the crash, the airline said.

Ruecker said Lubitz had a girlfriend and gave no indication during his visit in the fall that anything was wrong.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said German authorities had checked intelligence and police databases on the day of the crash and Lufthansa told them that regular security checks also turned up nothing untoward about the co-pilot. …

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