Last updated: 01:14 PM ET, Fri April 03 2015

Germanwings Co-Pilot Sped Up Plane on Descent

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | April 03, 2015

Germanwings Co-Pilot Sped Up Plane on Descent

Photo courtesy of Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses.

Thursday’s recovery of the second black box found at the wreckage of the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash site – the flight data recorder – has already yielded more startling information.

Officials from BEA, the French air accident investigation agency, said that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz manually increased the speed of the plane during its fateful descent into the French Alps last week.

Based on audio from the first black box found amidst the wreckage, the cockpit voice recorder, prosecutors allege that Lubitz locked the captain out of the flight deck when he got up to use the bathroom and deliberately steered the plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 on board.

BEA released a statement after it said it immediately began mining data from the second black box.

"The initial readout shows that the pilot present in the cockpit used the autopilot to put the (airplane) into a descent towards an altitude of 100 (feet) then, on several occasions during the descent, the pilot modified the autopilot setting to increase the speed of the (airplane) in descent," it said. "Work is continuing to establish the precise history of the flight."

Marseille, France, prosecutor Brice Robin said the second black box was found by a female police officer digging through the dirt at the expansive wreckage site.

A German prosecutor said Thursday that Lubitz researched methods of suicide and the security behind aircraft cockpit doors in the days before the March 24 crash. Investigators who confiscated a tablet at Lubitz’s home said their search of the device yielded a browser history that indicated Lubitz – who was treated for suicidal tendencies prior to becoming a pilot – researched those topics.

“The username, the private correspondence and search terms entered lead us to the conclusion that the device has been used by the co-pilot during the relevant period,” German prosecutor Ralf Herrenbrück said in a statement. “On at least one day, the concerned person spent several minutes with search words about cockpit doors and their security measures.”

Prosecutors say the search history on the tablet also indicated that Lubitz used it from March 16 to March 23 – one day before the fateful flight.

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