Investigation Indicates Germanwings Co-Pilot Practiced Crash Beforehand

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French safety agency BEA has released a preliminary report indicating that Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, suspected of deliberately crashing Flight 4U9525 in the French Alps on March 24, may have practiced on the plane’s previous flight.

Investigations indicate that Lubitz, alone in the cockpit during the initial flight from Dusseldorf, Germany to Barcelona, Spain, set the altitude dial to 100 feet several times, according to NBC News. That flight landed safely.

“My perspective on this is that he was actually thinking of committing suicide on the way out on the outbound flight but changed his mind,” aviation expert and former British Airways captain Alastair Rosenschein surmised. “There is no need for the pilot to practice doing this sort of thing because he knows the equipment fully.”

Although the dial was adjusted, the autopilot was never engaged, so the plane did not actually fall below its planned height.

On the return flight towards Dusseldorf, cockpit recordings indicate that Lubitz, 27, locked the captain out of the cockpit during his bathroom break; the latter can be heard banging on the door trying to convince Lubitz to let him back inside.

Lubitz crashed the Aurbus A320 into a mountainside a few minutes later, killing himself and all 149 passengers.

The BEA report also shows that air traffic controllers and military officials attempted to make contact with the plane 14 times as it descended. The plane transitioned from a cruising speed of 273 knots to 345 knots just before impact.

The documents also labeled Lubitz’s professional level as “above standard,” although investigations will continue by analyzing the medical rules regarding pilots, as well as cockpit door rules that were modified after the September 11 attacks.

Lubitz had a past of being treated for severe depression, and officials discovered that he conducted searches on his tablet computer for “suicide methods.”

Records also indicate that he lied about his history on the pilot license medical form, later changing the information to reflect his treatment for depression and resubmitting the form.

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