Last updated: 08:45 AM ET, Wed May 06 2015

Officials: Germanwings Co-Pilot Rehearsed Crash

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | May 06, 2015

Officials: Germanwings Co-Pilot Rehearsed Crash

Photo via Wikipedia

A disturbing new twist in the case of the Germanwings crash emerged this morning when investigators said co-pilot Andreas Lubitz practiced something of a dress rehearsal for the tragedy during a previous flight on the same route.

Lubitz allegedly deliberately crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 into the side of the French Alps in March, killing all 150 onboard the flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf. He apparently locked the pilot out of the cockpit when the captain got up to use the restroom, setting the plane on a slow, controlled descent to its fate.

Now officials are saying that, while their investigation is still ongoing, they have found evidence that on the previous flight on that fateful day of March 24 – from Dusseldorf to Barcelona earlier that day – Lubitz set the plate to automatic descent mode five times during a nearly five-minute period.

He brought the plane back up again each time, and each time the descent was so slight that it was barely noticed. However, investigators said, Lubitz did this while the captain was again briefly out of the cockpit.

Lubitz set the selected altitude of the flight to as low as 100 feet at one point. A preliminary report issued by investigators said it would be unusual for a pilot to set the plane to such a low flying altitude during flight unless an emergency dictated such.

A motive for Lubitz’s actions are still unknown. Lawmakers investigating the crash in both Germany and France found information to suggest that Lubitz had suffered from depression previously and had taken medication for it, and may have also just recently broken up with his girlfriend.

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