Readings from the second black box confirmed on Friday that Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately caused the plane crash in the French Alps by accelerating the plane’s descent, reports agencies.
Investigators said Friday that the box revealed that Lubitz repeatedly accelerated the airliner to hasten its collision course with the mountain. This came a day after finding the mangled and blackened flight data recorder from the Alps crash site in southeastern France.
According to France’s air accident bureau, the co-pilot clearly changed the settings to increase the plane’s speed.
“A first reading shows that the pilot in the cockpit used the automatic pilot to descend the plane towards an altitude of 100 feet. Then, several times during the descent, the pilot changed the automatic pilot settings to increase the aircraft’s speed,” BEA said adding that investigators are “continuing to determine the precise sequence of events during the flight”.
The revelations came as top French psychiatrist Samuel Lepastier said it was highly likely Lubitz was suffering from schizophrenia given the strong medication he was on – notably Olanzapine, whose side effects can include “unusual changes in personality, thoughts or behaviour; hallucinations and suicidal tendencies”.
“It is highly likely he was schizophrenic, given the medication he was taking,” Dr Lepastier, head of research at Paris Diderot university told The Telegraph.
On Tuesday, Germanwings parent Lufthansa confirmed that when Lubitz resumed pilot training in 2009 he provided the flight school with medical documents showing he had gone through a “previous episode of severe depression”.
Dr Lepastier said Lubitz’s initial severe depressive episode “could have been the first manifestation of schizophrenia, which often first strikes in one’s early twenties”.
“Patients can then feel they have fully recovered only to discover years later that their condition is worsening and they require treatment that could be very long. It is at this stage that the temptation to commit suicide is greatest. What we don’t know is if Lubitz had been told he might require hospitalisation and realised his pilot career was well and truly over.” German prosecutors this week revealed that Lubitz had conducted Internet research on “cockpit doors” and “suicide” right before the crash.
Dr Lepastier said there was a “documented desire” among schizophrenics with suicidal tendencies to “end their life by breaking their body into pieces – as was the case here”.
He added that along with the drug’s side effects of visual impairment, drowsiness and impotence, “one is also cut off from one’s own emotions and in moments of stress, can make entirely the wrong decisions”.
Asked whether he would have been aware he was committing mass murder, Dr Lepastier said “probably not”.
“Melancholic or deliriously depressed people are so narcissistic that others don’t count in their mind. There may well have been no real desire to kill others; rather one can say he forgot about everyone else and in the end nothing counted except his own situation.” “That said, one should never forget that a suicide is in fact a murder committed against oneself.”
A Rome to Hanover Germanwings flight had to make an emergency landing in Venice on Friday after a passenger and crew member suddenly felt unwell, possibly from panic attacks. (Source: Newvision)