Killer pilot’s chilling final words

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 30 Maret 2015 | 20.01

The Germanwings co-pilot who 'deliberately' crashed the plane sought psychiatric help for depression in 2009

Investigation continues ... the personal life of Andreas Lubitz is being carefully looked at. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

  • Black box reveals haunting last words of co-pilot
  • Lubitz 'feared vision problems would ground him'
  • DNA found from 78 victims
  • Girlfriend of crash co-pilot reportedly pregnant

THE chilling last words of killer co-pilot Andreas Lubitz — caught on the Germanwings aircraft's black box — gave a sign that he would crash the plane, killing 150 people.

When the captain asked Lubitz if he could check the landing preparations for the Airbus A320, the 27-year-old replied "Hopefully" and "Let's see", The Times reports.

The co-pilot had nagged captain Patrick Sonderheimer to go for a toilet break after the captain mentioned that he had not had time for one in Barcelona, from where the plane took off, bound for Dusseldorf.

Early years ... Andreas Lubitz learns how to fly. Source: No Source

Mr Sonderheimer, 34, then got up and left the cockpit, according to reports.

The captain, 34, could soon be heard shouting "For God's sake, open the door", as the plane plunged before it smashed into the French Alps.

Loud metallic blows could reportedly be heard against the cockpit door, before another warning alarm went off. The pilot then screamed to a silent Lubitz in the cockpit "open the damn door".

In other developments, footage has emerged of mass killer Lubitz learning how to fly as a teenager. In the footage, Lubitz can be seen laughing and smiling as he takes off and lands solo during a short glider flight in Germany. The pilot started his commercial pilot's training in 2007, aged 20.

Crash scene ... rescue workers and gendarmerie continue their search operation near the site of the Germanwings plane crash. Source: Getty Images

Earlier, German mass-circulation Bild reported that Lubitz's body had been recovered from the crash scene. Leading forensic scientist Professor Michael Tsokos told Bild Lubitz's body was among those already recovered from the crash site.

He said his team had been working round the clock to test and sort as many as 600 separate body parts from the 150 people killed in the crash.

Mr Tsokos said he hoped that within three weeks up to 95 per cent of all the victims will have been identified and officially declared dead.

Tough task ... Forensic experts of the French gendarmerie at work. Picture: AFP/ MINISTERE DE L'INTERIEUR Source: AFP

Investigators also say tests on Lubitz's body could provide crucial clues as to why he decided to lock himself in the cockpit of Flight 9525 and set the plane's autopilot to crash into the side of a mountain.

This latest information comes as it was revealed terrified passengers can be heard screaming for more than five minutes as rogue pilot Lubitz brought down the flight.

A new industry deal requires Australian airlines have two crew members in the cockpit at all times.

Lubitz 'hid illness from employers'

As investigators seek to build up a picture of Lubitz and any possible motives, media reports have emerged that he suffered from eye problems, adding to earlier reports he was severely depressed.

German prosecutors believe Lubitz hid an illness from his airline but have not specified the ailment, and said he had apparently been written off sick on the day the Airbus crashed.

Forensic work ... Most body parts were being winched up to helicopters before being transported to a lab in the nearby town of Seynes. Picture: AFP/Anne-Christine Poujoulat Source: AFP

Bild and the New York Times, citing two officials with knowledge of the investigation, said Lubitz had sought treatment for problems with his sight.

The 27-year-old had been hospitalised as late as a fortnight ago with authorities not ruling out his eyes issue were psychosomatic.

Troubled man ... Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings airliner. Picture: Wolfgang Nass/BILD Source: Supplied

Revelations by his ex-lover, a flight attendant identified under the assumed name Maria W, that he was a tormented man and increasingly becoming erratic was prompted by his fear his mental and eye health for which he was receiving psychiatric and neurological treatment may deem him unfit to fly.

The problem is thought to be a retinal detachment, Bild said.

Authorities have found several torn up sick notes in his Dusseldorf apartment that excused him from work but apparently were never given to his bosses.

Girlfriend rumoured to be pregnant

Bild also reported that Lubitz's girlfriend, with whom he lived in the western city of Dusseldorf, was believed to be pregnant.

It gave no sources but said the teacher, who taught maths and English, had told pupils a few weeks ago she was expecting a baby.

It came as new claims suggest Andreas Lubitz was obsessed with the Alps and specifically the southern region which he would later crash his Germanwings flight into, having flown gliders over the area years earlier.

Found ... Lubitz's body has reportedly been recovered from the crash scene. Picture: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Poor health ... Andreas Lubitz was reportedly suffering from deteriorating eyesight. Picture: AFP/ Team Mueller Source: AFP

Another woman, Maria W, dated Lubitz for five months last year but broke it off because she felt he was not right, was volatile and had a temper. He had been in a previous long-term relationship of several years with a woman he met at Burger King where they both worked in 2008 in Montabaur in Germany and since Maria had been dating another flight attendant.

Remote terrain ... Chasseurs Alpins rescuers, the elite mountain infantry of the French Army, working at the crash site. Picture: AFP/Francis Pellier Source: AFP

Unprecedented difficulty ... some of the recovery work has to be performed by abseiling. Picture: AFP/Francis Pellier Source: AFP

'During conversations he'd suddenly throw a tantrum and scream at me," Maria said. "I was afraid. He even once locked me in the bathroom for a long time."

She said after she had heard about the crash she recalled a conversation Lubitz had with her.

"When I heard about the crash, there was just a tape playing in my head of what he said: 'One day I will do something that will change the system and everyone will then know my name and remember me'," she recalled

"I did not know what he meant by that at the time, but now it's clear."

"The torn up sick notes make sense now to me and were a clear sign that he did not want to admit that his big dream of flying as a captain was over," Maria said.

Evidence found ... sick notes saying Lubitz was unfit to fly were found in his home. Picture: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Tougher cockpit rules on Australian planes

Australian airlines will be required to have two crew in the cockpit of their planes at all times under stricter rules.

Transport Minister Warren Truss will announce the new requirements on Monday.

The stronger cockpit safety requirements for Australian domestic and international airlines will take effect immediately.

Previously Australia has allowed a pilot to be alone on the flight deck.

Aussie relatives ready to visit crash site

When Malcolm Coram stands looking at a modest stone memorial in the tiny French village of Le Vernet he'll be able to look past it to tree-covered hills beyond which are barren mountains and then snow-capped Alps.

Just over the highest peak is the place where his sister, Carol Friday, and nephew, Greig Friday, both from Melbourne, died almost a week ago when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz apparently deliberately crashed the Germanwings Airbus A320 he was flying.

Mr Coram and his daughters Georgina and Philippa — who are nurse Carol's nieces and engineer Greig's cousins — will fly in to Marseilles on Monday morning (Monday night AEDT) before driving north into the Alps to say an unbearably sad farewell.

In Le Vernet they'll lay flowers at the memorial erected for those who died last Tuesday when flight 4U9525 from Barcelona didn't reach Dusseldorf.

Flowers offered ... A monument in the area where the Germanwings aircraft crashed. Picture: AP/Claude Paris Source: AP

The Corams are expected to leave tributes from other family and friends too, including poems, photos and reminders of the Australian bush that Carol and Greig loved.

Carol's husband, Dave, and the couple's daughter, Alex, aren't travelling to France.

The memorial stone in Le Vernet reads: "In memory of the victims of the air disaster of March 24, 2015".

It stands above the village near a cluster of low wooden buildings that once formed a youth centre but now house a small restaurant, a smaller school, the village library and some chalet-style accommodation.

In the summer people stay for the walking. In winter it is all about skiing.

Now the site is crammed with satellite trucks, TV cameras and media from around the world.

Germany lost 75 nationals — half of all those on board — in the disaster but there were victims from more than a dozen countries. French emergency workers have held aloft national flags in recent days when victims' relatives visit the memorial.

Near crash ... French gendarmes prepare a German and a Japanese flag before relatives pay their respects. Picture: AFP/JEAN-PERRE CLATOT Source: AFP

They're expected on Monday to display a large Australian flag for the Corams as a mark of respect.

The recovery effort has been made more harrowing by the revelation Lubitz deliberately turned a button on the plane's flight-monitoring system that began a deadly eight-minute descent. "This action can only be deliberate," local prosecutor Brice Robin has said.

"It would be impossible to turn the button by mistake." Forensic teams have so far isolated 78 distinct DNA strands from body parts at the mountain crash site with investigators describing the difficulty of the search as "unprecedented" due to the arduous terrain.

DNA found from 78 crash victims

Investigators have faced a huge task in trying to recover bodies and search for a second 'black box' at the site, which is extremely hard to access and has required specialist mountain police to accompany search teams.

"We haven't found a single body intact," said Patrick Touron, deputy director of the police's criminal research institute.

Reflection ... relatives and members of emergency services at a makeshift monument to honour the victims of Germanwings flight 4U9525, near the crash site. Picture: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

He said the difficulty of the recovery mission was "unprecedented".

"We have slopes of 40 to 60 degrees, falling rocks, and ground that tends to crumble," said Touron.

"Some things have to be done by abseiling."

Helicopters have been going back and forth to the nearby town of Seynes — around 60 trips a day.

"Since safety is key, the recovery process is a bit slow, which is a great regret," Touron said.

Most body parts were being winched up to helicopters before being transported to a lab in the nearby town of Seynes where a 50-strong team of forensic doctors and dentists and police identification specialists is working.

Between 400 and 600 body parts were currently being examined, Touron said.

Offering support ... Pastor Michael Dietrich is standing by Lubitz's family. Picture: AP/AP Television Source: AP

Support for Lubitz's family

The pastor of the Lutheran church in Andreas Lubitz's hometown said that the community stands by him and his family, despite the fact that prosecutors blame him for causing the plane crash.

The town of Montabaur has been rattled by the revelation that Lubitz may have intentionally caused the crash.

"For us, it makes it particularly difficult that the only victim from Montabaur is suspected to have caused this tragedy, this crash — although this has not been finally confirmed, but a lot is indicating that — and we have to face this," pastor Michael Dietrich said.

He spoke to The Associated Press after holding a church service to commemorate the crash victims and support their families.

"The co-pilot, the family belong to our community, and we stand by this, and we embrace them and will not hide this, and want to support the family in particular," Dietrich said.

Touching tribute ... Candles and flowers have been placed at the airline's headquarter in Cologne, western Germany. Picture: AFP/DPA/OLIVER BERG Source: AFP

He added that there is no direct contact with the family at the moment, but that he believes they are receiving good assistance.

French prosecutors haven't questioned the family yet "out of decency and respect for their pain," Marseilles prosecutor Brice Robin said.

Dietrich, the pastor, said he knew Lubitz as a teenager, when he attended religious education 13 years ago, and his mother, who worked as a part-time organist in the community.

"When I worked with her or talked to her, it was very good and very harmonious. We had good conversations," Dietrich said. "I know her and her family. This does not make sense. It is incomprehensible for me, for us, for everyone who knew her and the family."

"From what I've heard, there were no obvious signs that there is anything in the background that could lead to this," he added.

'Plunged into sadness' ... the Digne archbishop spoke to people's feelings of grief and confusion about the tragedy. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: News Corp Australia

Hundreds show solidarity at service

At the Notre-Dame-du-Bourg Cathedral, 40km from the crash site, several hundred parishioners from the district as well as members of the French and Spanish branches of the Red Cross — dispatched to assist those distressed by the incident — prayed for the victims and their families.

150 candles were lit and prayers offered for each of the passengers and crew, including Lubitz.

The Digne archbishop spoke to people's feelings of grief and confusion about the tragedy.

"We are in deep distress, plunged into sadness, unable to understand, and have strong feelings of unfairness," archbishop Jean-Philippe Nault, told some 500 faithful.

He said they had come "to express their friendship" for the families and friends of those killed on board the Airbus A320 travelling from Barcelona to Dusseldorf when it went down.

Elements of the service were given by priests from Spain and Germany in their native tongue.

One parishioner Franciscan Convent nun Sister Rosilda said it was important to attend and show solidarity.

Challenging ... a 50-strong team of forensic doctors and dentists and police identification specialists is working on victim identification. Picture: AFP/Gendarmerie Nationale Source: AFP

"We cannot understand this pilot and why he did this," she said. "But we pray for the families, the victims and the pilot as well."

A father's pain

The father of one of the victims who visited a memorial near the crash site in the village of Le Vernet said airlines to take greater care over pilots' welfare.

Philip Bramley's 28-year-old son Paul died in the crash.

"I believe the airlines should be more transparent and our finest pilots looked after properly," Mr Bramley, from Hull in northern England said yesterday. "We put our lives and our children's lives in their hands. "What is relevant, is that it should never happen again; my son and everyone on that plane should not be forgotten, ever."

Lubitz had frequented a gliding club near the crash site as a child with his parents.

Boyhood dream to fly ... The LSC Westerwald aviation club where Lubitz was a member. Picture: AFP/Roberto Pfeil Source: AFP

According to Francis Kefer, a member of the club in the town of Sisteron about 50km from the crash site, Lubitz and other members of his German glider club visited the region regularly between 1996 and 2003.

When Lubitz crashed he would have flown over the peaks and major turning points for gliders that he would have done years earlier in his glider.

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