French prosecutors identified Andreas Lubitz Thursday as the Germanwings Flight 9525 co-pilot who they say intentionally crashed the plane into a remote region of the French Alps this week. Lubitz, 28, was a native of Montabaur, Germany, who also maintained an apartment in Dusseldorf, according to the Telegraph.
"He had no reason to disable contact with other planes," said Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin, who leads the criminal investigation of the plane crash. "We could hear the cries minutes before the plane crashed. ... The intention was to destroy the plane."
French officials who examined the flight's cockpit voice recorder said conversation between the flight's pilot and co-pilot was normal until the pilot left the cockpit, purportedly to use the bathroom. When he returned, the door was locked and inaccessible, according to the New York Times.
Robin said there was "absolute silence in the cockpit" as the pilot attempted to regain entry, though authorities confirmed Lubitz was alive and breathing normally until the moment the plane crashed, according to the BBC. French air traffic controllers attempted to contact the cockpit without success.
"The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer. There is never an answer," a French military official said. "You can hear he is trying to smash the door down."
With the pilot locked out of the cockpit, Robin said Lubitz initiated the plane's descent by pressing a button that accelerated the aircraft. Authorities have yet to determine the motive behind his actions. Robin said there was no evidence yet to link Lubitz's actions to terrorism, though he acknowledged that concerns of possible pilot suicide were "legitimate."
The United States Federal Aviation Administration named Lubitz to its "FAA Airmen Certification Database" in 2013, according to the Aviation Business Gazette. Lubitz's flight club, the Luftsportclub Westerwald, addressed his death in a statement after it became known that he was killed in the crash, but before prosecutors revealed he was responsible. "Andreas became a member of the club as a youth to fulfill his dream of flying," the LSC said in a statement. "He fulfilled his dream, the dream he now paid for so dearly with his life."
Lubitz trained with Lufthansa and joined Germanwings, a Lufthansa subsidiary, as a pilot in September 2013, according to The Guardian. He had 630 hours of flying experience, the news outlet reported. Neighbors purportedly described Lubitz as friendly and said he was a jogging enthusiast.
Picture of 24-year-old German Wings pilot Andreas Lubitz as carried by Spanish language news site teinteresa.es pic.twitter.com/zv4Cx0axu7
— Luke Baker (@LukeReuters) March 26, 2015
The Airbus A320 was traveling from Spain to Germany Tuesday when it began to rapidly descend from a cruising altitute of 38,000 feet to approximately 5,000 feet. It crashed into a mountainous area northeast of Nice, France, killing all 150 of its passengers.