UPDATES: Prosecutor Says Germanwings Co-Pilot Deliberately Crashed Plane

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The Associated Press

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin says passengers on the doomed Germanwings flight could be heard screaming just before the crash.

He said the co-pilot, who has been named as 29-year-old Andreas Lubitz, was initially courteous, but became “curt” when the captain began the mid-flight briefing on the planned landing of the Germanwings flight which crashed in France, killing all 150 people aboard. After the pilot left the cockpit to go to the toilet, pounding could be heard on the door during the final minutes of the flight of the doomed Germanwings airliner as alarms sounded.

He said the co-pilot “voluntarily” refused to open the door, and his breathing was normal throughout the final minutes of the flight. The prosecutor said the co-pilot clearly desired to crash the plane, and did not utter a single word once the captain had left the cabin, even as the impact was imminent. “It was absolute silence in the cockpit”, he said.

He identified the pilot as a German national and who had never been flagged as a terrorist. Earlier reports have said the captain was a veteran flyer with thousands of hours on the airframe.

Prosecutor Robin refused to give details on the pilot’s religion or ethnic background. He refused to give details on the pilot’s religion, saying: “I don’t think it’s necessarily what we should be looking for.”

The Airbus A320, on a flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, and began to descend from cruising altitude after losing radio contact with ground control and slammed into a remote mountainside in the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board.

The A320 is designed with safeguards to allow emergency entry if a pilot inside is unresponsive, but the override code known to the crew does not go into effect — and indeed goes into a five-minute lockdown — if the person inside the cockpit specifically denies entry, according to an Airbus training video and a pilot who has six years of experience with the jets.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the standard U.S. operating procedure is that if one of the pilots leaves — for example to use the toilet — a flight attendant takes their spot in the cockpit, but this is not the case in Europe.

Additional Reporting by AP