The Germanwings co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing a jet in the French Alps rehearsed the fatal maneuver on the morning of the disaster, and had twice been refused medical papers needed to fly, investigators said on Wednesday.
The French BEA accident investigation agency said the co-pilot had five times set the autopilot to take the Airbus down to just 100 feet while the captain was out of the cockpit on the outbound flight to Barcelona from Duesseldorf.
But the brief twists of an altitude dial, mimicking those which crashed the A320 on its way back to the German city 2-3 hours later, would not have been noticed by passengers or controllers because they were quickly reversed and were masked by the fact that the jet had already started an authorized descent, the BEA said.
A preliminary report on the return flight that crashed on March 24, killing all 150 people on board, confirmed a growing picture of painstaking preparations carried out by the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz.
“I can’t speculate on what was happening inside his head; all I can say is that he changed this button to the minimum setting of 100 feet and he did it several times,” said Remi Jouty, director of the French BEA accident investigation agency. (Read more from “Germanwings Pilot Rehearsed Crash on Outbound Flight” HERE)