Germanwings pilot rehearsed crash on outbound flight: investigators

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Investigation: Germanwings Co-Pilot Practiced Before Fatal Crash

(Reuters) - The Germanwings co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing a jet in the French Alps rehearsed the fatal maneuver on the morning of the disaster, and had twice been refused medical papers needed to fly, investigators said on Wednesday.

The French BEA accident investigation agency said the co-pilot had five times set the autopilot to take the Airbus down to just 100 feet while the captain was out of the cockpit on the outbound flight to Barcelona from Duesseldorf.

But the brief twists of an altitude dial, mimicking those which crashed the A320 on its way back to the German city 2-3 hours later, would not have been noticed by passengers or controllers because they were quickly reversed and were masked by the fact that the jet had already started an authorized descent, the BEA said.

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Germanwings - Andreas Lubitz pilot - memorials - plane crash
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Germanwings pilot rehearsed crash on outbound flight: investigators
In this photo released today, co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525 Andreas Lubitz participates in the Airport Hamburg 10-mile race on September 13, 2009 in Hamburg, Germany. Lubitz is suspected of having deliberately piloted Germanwings flight 4U 9525 into a mountain in southern France on March 24, 2015 and killing all 150 people on board, including himself, in the worst air disaster in Europe in recent history. (Photo by Getty Images)
French authorities have indicated they believe the co-pilot of the GermanWings Airbus A320 deliberately took over the aircraft on Tuesday,crashing the plane on purpose and killing all 158 passengers and crew. The planned flight, from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, took a path over the southern French Alps near Dignes where the wreckage of the plane was found. At first GermanWings authorities expressed surprise and dismay in social media with the French authorities conclusion adding they believed it was too early in the investigation. A Lufthansa press conference later on Thursday, held in Germany, by Chief Executive Carsten Spohr stated that it appeared the co-pilot had prevented the pilot from entering the cockpit after a bathroom break. It leaves us absolutely speechless, he said. I wouldnt not have been able to imagine that the situation would have got even worse. ----- This social media photo of Andreas Lubitz near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was found on his Facebook Page.
FRANKFURT, GERMANY - MARCH 14: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (EDITOR'S NOTE: This photo is available exclusively through Getty Images) In this photo released today, co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525 Andreas Lubitz participates in the Frankfurt City Half-Marathon on March 14, 2010 in Frankfurt, Germany. Lubitz is suspected of having deliberately piloted Germanwings flight 4U 9525 into a mountain in southern France on March 24, 2015 and killing all 150 people on board, including himself, in the worst air disaster in Europe in recent history. (Photo by Getty Images)
MONTABAUR, GERMANY - MARCH 26: A policeman carries bags out of the residence of the parents of Andreas Lubitz, co-pilot on Germanwings flight 4U9525, on March 26, 2015 in Montabaur, Germany. French authorities confirmed that Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France two days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Authorities are pursuing the possibility that Lubitz might have acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to is destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
MONTABAUR, GERMANY - MARCH 26: Police carry computer, a box and bags out of the residence of the parents of Andreas Lubitz, co-pilot on Germanwings flight 4U9525, on March 26, 2015 in Montabaur, Germany. French authorities confirmed that Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France two days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Authorities are pursuing the possibility that Lubitz might have acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to is destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
MONTABAUR, GERMANY - MARCH 26: Police carry computer, a box and bags out of the residence of the parents of Andreas Lubitz, co-pilot on Germanwings flight 4U9525, on March 26, 2015 in Montabaur, Germany. French authorities confirmed that Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France two days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Authorities are pursuing the possibility that Lubitz might have acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to is destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: Members of the public take part in a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings flight 4U9525 passenger plane crash at the Dom cathedral on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: Lower Saxony Governor Stephan Weil (2nd R) attends a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings flight 4U9525 passenger plane crash at the Dom cathedral on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: German President Joachim Gauck takes part in a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings flight 4U9525 passenger plane crash at the Dom cathedral on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: A memorial of flowers and candles can be seen on the a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: A memorial of flowers and candles can be seen on the a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: People watch the ecumenical memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne in front of the Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: A memorial of flowers and candles can be seen on the a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: Guests arrive for a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 of the victims' relatives, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims who were killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: A black ribbon showing the flight number of Germanwings flight 4U9525 is displayed at the Dom cathedral, ahead of a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: North Rhine-Westphalia Governor Hannelore Kraft and Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr, ahead of a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 of the victims' relatives, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims who were killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
Germanwings chief operating officer (COO) and member of the board Oliver Wagner holds a press conference on March 30, 2015 in Marseille, southern France about the creation of a family assistance center for the relatives of victims of a Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard. French prosecutors believe that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately flew Flight 4U 9525 into a mountainside near Seyne-les-Alpes. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
DIGNE-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - MARCH 28: Bishop Jean-Philippe Nault (C) leads a service for local residents remembering the victims of Germanwings Airbus fight near the crash site at Notre Dame du Bourg cathedral on March 28, 2015 in Digne-les-Bains, France. French authorities confirmed that Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France four days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Lubitz hid signs of illness and it is thought he acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to its destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LA VERNET, FRANCE - MARCH 28: Relatives stand at a monument to honour the victims of Germanwings flight 4U9525 in front of the mountains near the crash site on March 26, 2015 in Le Vernet, France. France. French authorities confirmed that Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France four days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Lubitz hid signs of illness and it is thought he acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to its destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LA VERNET, FRANCE - MARCH 28: Relatives stand at a monument to honour the victims of Germanwings flight 4U9525 in front of the mountains near the crash site on March 26, 2015 in Le Vernet, France. France. French authorities confirmed that Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France four days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Lubitz hid signs of illness and it is thought he acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to its destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
A helicopter of the French gendarmerie flies over Seyne-les-Alpes on March 28, 2015, near the site where a Germanwings flight crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard. French prosecutors believe that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately flew Flight 4U 9525 into a mountainside near Seyne. AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
A helicopter of the French gendarmerie flies over Seyne-les-Alpes on March 28, 2015, near the site where a Germanwings flight crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard. French prosecutors believe that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately flew Flight 4U 9525 into a mountainside near Seyne. AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
Flowers and candles have been left to commemorate a woman, a victim of the Germanwings plane crash from Halle, eastern Germany on March 28, 2015. French prosecutors believe that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately flew Flight 4U 9525 into a mountainside near Seyne. AFP PHOTO / DPA / HENDRIK SCHMIDT +++ GERMANY OUT +++ (Photo credit should read HENDRIK SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
LE VERNET, FRANCE - MARCH 28: Policemen stand in front of a memorial stone for the victims of the Germanwings Airbus flight near to the crash site on March 28, 2015 in Le Vernet, France. French authorities confirmed that Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France four days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Lubitz hid signs of illness and it is thought he acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to its destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LE VERNET, FRANCE - MARCH 28: Policemen stand in front of a memorial stone for the victims of the Germanwings Airbus flight near to the crash site on March 28, 2015 in Le Vernet, France. French authorities confirmed that Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France four days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Lubitz hid signs of illness and it is thought he acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to its destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
A candle is lit in front of a board with the flight number of Germanwings plane 4U92524 and the lettering 'We are in mourning' in English, German and Spanish during the annual general meeting of Lufthansa Group at the Congress Center in Hamburg, northern Germany, on April 29, 2015. German airline Lufthansa holds it annual shareholders' meeting in the shadow of last month's Germanwings crash in the French Alps which killed 150 people. AFP PHOTO / CARMEN JASPERSEN (Photo credit should read CARMEN JASPERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: A memorial of flowers and candles can be seen on the a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
A program and a carving of wood are seen during the memorial service for the 150 people killed in the Germanwings plane crash in the Cathedral in Cologne, western Germany on April 17, 2015. About 1,500 guests are expected for the service, among them 500 relatives of the victims, in northern Europe's largest Gothic church, which will also be broadcast livCe on screens outside the cathedral and to viewers nationwide. AFP PHOTO / POOL / OLIVER BERG (Photo credit should read OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Anonymous stand near a stela commemorating the victims of the March 24 Germanwings Airbus A320 crash in the village of Le Vernet, southeastern France, on April 6, 2015 after a ceremony with victims' relatives. A German Airbus A320 of the low-cost carrier Germanwings crashed in the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 people on board. AFP PHOTO / JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET (Photo credit should read JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images)
People mourn at the memorial of flowers and candles in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school in Haltern am See, western Germany on April 1, 2015, from where some of the Germanwings plane crash victims came. A church service will take place in the small western German town of Haltern to remember 16 pupils and two teachers from the same school who were killed in the Germanwings air disaster as they returned from an exchange trip to Barcelona. AFP PHOTO / SASCHA SCHUERMANN (Photo credit should read SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
National flags of countries of the victims, a teddy bear, books and different items put by people, are pictured near a stele in memory of the victims of the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash, in Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps, on March 30, 205. Investigators sifting through the wreckage of the doomed plane in the French Alps were forced on March 30 to resume the hunt on foot as bad weather hampered helicopter flights. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-PERRE CLATOT (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)
A stone reading 'RIP 4U 9525 in deep sorrow' lays amidst a memorial of flowers and candles in front of the headquarters of German airline Germanwings in Cologne, western Germany, on March 30, 2015. Officials say that the co-pilot of a Germanwings A320 Airbus plane that crashed on March 24, 2015 in the French Alps locked the captain out of the cockpit of the Airbus jet and deliberately crashed Flight 4U 9525, bound for Duesseldorf from Barcelona. The plane is said to have crashed at a speed of 700 kilometres (430 miles) per hour, killing all 150 on board instantly. AFP PHOTO / DPA / OLIVER BERG +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view of the University hospital were Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who flew his Airbus into a French mountainside, had been treated, is pictured on March 27, 2015, in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who French authorities say appeared to deliberately crash a Germanwings flight, was a life-long flying enthusiast with no apparent psychological problems or terrorist links. into the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard, hid a serious illness from the airline, prosecutors said Friday amid reports he was severely depressed. AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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A preliminary report on the return flight that crashed on March 24, killing all 150 people on board, confirmed a growing picture of painstaking preparations carried out by the co-pilot, named by French prosecutors as Andreas Lubitz.

"I can't speculate on what was happening inside his head; all I can say is that he changed this button to the minimum setting of 100 feet and he did it several times," said Remi Jouty, director of the French BEA accident investigation agency.

"These very brief actions on the previous flight were a sort of rehearsal of the maneuver," he said.

Digging into data and cockpit recordings recovered from the jet's "black boxes", the BEA gave the most detailed picture so far on what happened in the cockpit of return flight 9525.

The 27-year-old co-pilot was in charge of flying the plane on the return leg, a routine practice that allows pilots to build up experience.

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Germanwings plane crash - crash site specifically
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Germanwings pilot rehearsed crash on outbound flight: investigators
People load remains of the Germanwings flight crash victims in a Lufthansa cargo plane on June 9, 2015 at the Marseille-Provence airport in Marignane, southern France. Lufthansa confirmed that a plane would arrive from Marseille in Duesseldorf on June 9 with 30 coffins of victims on board, and that their handover would take place the following day. 150 people died on March 24 when a Germanwings flight was deliberately crashed into the French Alps . AFP PHOTO /ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A screen grab taken from an AFP TV video on March 24, 2015 shows debris of the Germanwings Airbus A320 at the crash site in the French Alps above the southeastern town of Seyne. The plane, which had taken off from Barcelona in Spain and was headed for Dusseldorf in Germany, crashed earlier in the day with 150 people onboard. AFP PHOTO /DENIS BOIS /GRIPMEDIA / AFP TV (Photo credit should read DENIS BOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Marseille, France - March 24: A piece of debris of Germanwings Flight 4U9525 with german flag on it is seen at the crash site in the French Alps on March 24, 2015 near Barcelonette, France. (Photo by Thomas Koehler/Photothek via Getty Images)
A screengrab taken from an AFP TV video on March 24, 2015 shows the debris from a Germanwings Airbus A320 at the crash site in the French Alps above the southeastern town of Seyne. The plane, which had taken off from Barcelona in Spain and was headed for Dusseldorf in Germany, crashed earlier in the day with 150 people onboard. AFP PHOTO /DENIS BOIS /GRIPMEDIA / AFP TV (Photo credit should read DENIS BOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
LE VERNET, FRANCE- MARCH 26: French police close the road the road that leads up to the crash site as families of the victims are expected to start arriving in Le Vernet and Seylnes-les Alpes, on March 26, 2015 in Le Vernet, France. Germanwings flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf crashed in Southern French Alps, killing all 150 passengers and crew. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
SEYNE, FRANCE - MARCH 25: French military personel walk up the mountainside on March 25, 2015 near Seyne, France. Germanwings flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf has crashed in Southern French Alps. All 150 passengers and crew are thought to have died. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
A rescuers points to the plane crash site onto a map, on March 24, 2015 at the Rescue Command Center set up in the southeastern French town of Seyne, near the site where a German Airbus A320 of the low-cost carrier Germanwings crashed, killing all 150 people on board. The jet had taken off from Barcelona in Spain and was headed for Duesseldorf in Germany. AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
French Red Cross staff wait to greet the families of victims of the Germanwings Airbus A320 at the convention centre of Digne-les-Bains on March 25, 2015, a day after the plane crashed in the French Alps. Investigators scoured the pulverised debris of the German airliner for bodies and clues to its mysterious eight-minute descent and crash in the French Alps that killed all 150 aboard. AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GUYOT (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: Gendarmerie and French mountain rescue teams arrive near the site of the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: Gendarmerie and French mountain rescue teams arrive near the site of the Germanwings plane crash near the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: Aerial view of crash site of Germanwings Flight 4U9525 in Seyne Les Alpes on March 24, 2015 in Seyne Les Alpes, France. German Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited the site of a Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner which crashed with 150 people on board in the French Alps. (Photo by Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal,Spanish Transport Minister Ana Pastor Julian and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrive near the site of the Germanwings plane crash near the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: Gendarmerie and French mountain rescue teams arrive near the site of the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: Gendarmerie and French mountain rescue teams arrive near the site of the Germanwings plane crash near the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: Gendarmerie and French mountain rescue teams arrive near the site of the Germanwings plane crash near the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: Gendarmerie and French mountain rescue teams arrive near the site of the Germanwings plane crash near the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: Gendarmerie and French mountain rescue teams arrive near the site of the Germanwings plane crash near the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve arrives near the site of the Germanwings plane crash near the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: Gendarmerie and French mountain rescue teams arrive near the site of the Germanwings plane crash near the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: TV lighting is seen near the site of the Germanwings plane crash near the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: Gendarmerie and French mountain rescue teams arrive near the site of the Germanwings plane crash near the French Alps on March 24, 2015 in La Seyne les Alpes, France. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)
LA SEYNE LES ALPES, FRANCE- MARCH 24: Aerial view of crash site of Germanwings Flight 4U9525 in Seyne Les Alpes on March 24, 2015 in Seyne Les Alpes, France. German Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited the site of a Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner which crashed with 150 people on board in the French Alps. (Photo by Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images)
A helicopter of the French civil security services flies near Seyne, south-eastern France, on March 24, 2015, near the site where a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps. A German airliner crashed near a ski resort in the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 people on board, in the worst plane disaster in mainland France in four decades.. AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 24: Relatives of passengers of Germanwings flight, arrive at Barcelona International Airport on March 24, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain after an Airbus A320 plane flown by low-budget airline Germanwings crashed in southern France. Nearly 150 people are feared dead including 144 passengers and six crew after the Airbus A320 crash. (Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
HALTERN AM SEE, GERMANY - MARCH 24: Students and well wishers gather in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school in Haltern am See, Germany on March 24, 2015, from where some of the Germanwings plane crash victims came. Sixteen German teenagers and two teachers on a school exchange trip were assumed to be among the 150 dead in the crash of a passenger jet in the French Alps, officials said. The head of low-budget airline Germanwings said there were 144 passengers and six crew on the Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps en route to Duesseldorf from Barcelona. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 24: Relatives of passengers of Germanwings flight, arrive at Barcelona International Airport on March 24, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain after an Airbus A320 plane flown by low-budget airline Germanwings crashed in southern France. (Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Flightradar data of flight D-AIPX operated by Germanwings. An Airbus A320 of the German airline Germanwings crashed Tuesday in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Southern France, on March 24, 2015, BFMTV reported, citing a local police source. The ill-fated passenger jet with some 142 passengers and six crew members aboard was flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf when the tragedy occurred. Photo by ABACAPRESS.COM
French emergency services workers gather in Seyne, south-eastern France, on March 24, 2015, near the site where a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps. A German airliner crashed near a ski resort in the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 people on board, in the worst plane disaster in mainland France in four decades. AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Thomas Winkelmann, chief executive officer of Germanwings, speaks during a news conference in Cologne, Germany, on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Germanwings Flight 9525 operated by the low-cost subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa AG went down in the Digne region about an hour north of Marseille en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, Germany, according to German air-traffic control authorities and may have claimed the lives of all 154 people on board. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An Aerospatiale AS350 Ecureuil helicopter of the French National Gendarmerie is seen in Seyne, south-eastern France, on March 24, 2015, near the site where a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps. A German airliner crashed near a ski resort in the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 people on board, in the worst plane disaster in mainland France in four decades. AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A helicopter of the French civil security services flies near Seyne, south-eastern France, on March 24, 2015, near the site where a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps. A German airliner crashed near a ski resort in the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 people on board, in the worst plane disaster in mainland France in four decades. AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 24: King Felipe of Spain (R) is watched by French president Francois Hollande (L) and Queen Letizia of Spain as he addresses media after a meeting at the Elysee presidential palace, on March 24, 2015 in Paris, France. King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain have decided to cut short their scheduled state visit to France after a Germanwings Airbus A320 plane crashed in the French Alps, as it travelled from Barcelona to Duesseldorf. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 24: A relative (C) of passangers of the Germanwings plane crashed in French Alps arrives at the Terminal 2 of the Barcelona El Prat airport on March 24, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 148 people on board has crashed in French Alps. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN- MARCH 24: Relatives of passangers of the Germanwings plane crashed in French Alps arrive escorted by police officer at Terminal 2 of Barcelona El Prat airport on March 24, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 148 people on board has crashed in French Alps. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Flightradar data of flight D-AIPX operated by Germanwings. An Airbus A320 of the German airline Germanwings crashed Tuesday in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Southern France, on March 24, 2015, BFMTV reported, citing a local police source. The ill-fated passenger jet with some 142 passengers and six crew members aboard was flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf when the tragedy occurred. Photo by ABACAPRESS.COM
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 24: A relative (C) of passangers of the Germanwings plane crashed in French Alps arrives at the Terminal 2 of the Barcelona El Prat airport on March 24, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner with 148 people on board has crashed in French Alps. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Duesseldorf, GERMANY - MARCH 24: People arrive at a holding area for friends and relatives of passengers on Germanwings flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf at Duesseldorf International Airport on March 24, 2015 in Duesseldorf, Germany. The German Airbus A320 has crashed in Southern French Alps. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)
Flightradar data of flight D-AIPX operated by Germanwings. An Airbus A320 of the German airline Germanwings crashed Tuesday in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Southern France, on March 24, 2015, BFMTV reported, citing a local police source. The ill-fated passenger jet with some 142 passengers and six crew members aboard was flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf when the tragedy occurred. Photo by ABACAPRESS.COM
An electronic board displays departures in terminal 2B at Barcelona's El Prat airport on March 24, 2015 after a Germanwings airliner crashed near a ski resort in the French Alps with all 148 people on board feared dead, officials said. The plane, belonged to Germanwings, a low-cost affiliate of German airline Lufthansa, was travelling from the Spanish coastal city of Barcelona to the German city of Duesseldorf after issuing a distress call at 10:47 am (0947 GMT), sources said. AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Airbus A320 of the German airline Germanwings crashed Tuesday in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Southern France, on March 24, 2015, BFMTV reported, citing a local police source. The ill-fated passenger jet with some 142 passengers and six crew members aboard was flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf when the tragedy occurred. Photo by ABACAPRESS.COM
A red star on a topographical map marks the crash site of a Germanwings plane in the French Alps in Seyne Les Alpes, France, 24 March 2015. (Photo: PETER KNEFFEL/dpa)
A Swissport employee stands inside a booth in terminal 2B at Barcelona's El Prat airport on March 24, 2015 after a Germanwings airliner crashed near a ski resort in the French Alps with all 148 people on board feared dead, officials said. The plane, belonged to Germanwings, a low-cost affiliate of German airline Lufthansa, was travelling from the Spanish coastal city of Barcelona to the German city of Duesseldorf after issuing a distress call at 10:47 am (0947 GMT), sources said. AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 24: Relatives of passangers of the Germanwings plane crashed in French Alps arrives at the Terminal 2 of the Barcelona El Prat airport on March 24, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. Germanwings flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps.(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN- MARCH 24: Relatives of passangers of the Germanwings plane crashed in French Alps arrives at the Terminal 2 of the Barcelona El Prat airport on March 24, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. Germanwings flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf with 150 people on board has crashed in the French Alps.(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
HALTERN AM SEE, GERMANY - MARCH 24: Students and well wishers gather in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school in Haltern am See, Germany on March 24, 2015, from where some of the Germanwings plane crash victims came. Sixteen German teenagers and two teachers on a school exchange trip were assumed to be among the 150 dead in the crash of a passenger jet in the French Alps, officials said. The head of low-budget airline Germanwings said there were 144 passengers and six crew on the Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps en route to Duesseldorf from Barcelona. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)
HALTERN AM SEE, GERMANY - MARCH 24: Students and well wishers gather in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school in Haltern am See, Germany on March 24, 2015, from where some of the Germanwings plane crash victims came. Sixteen German teenagers and two teachers on a school exchange trip were assumed to be among the 150 dead in the crash of a passenger jet in the French Alps, officials said. The head of low-budget airline Germanwings said there were 144 passengers and six crew on the Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps en route to Duesseldorf from Barcelona. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)
Family member aircrash victims stand at Barcelona's El Prat airport on March 24, 2015 after a Germanwings airliner crashed near a ski resort in the French Alps with all 150 people on board feared dead, officials said. Tearful relatives of passengers of the German airliner that crashed in the French Alps Tuesday gathered grieving at Barcelona and Dusseldorf airports as officials announced none of the 150 people on board survived. AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
Students and well wishers gather in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school in Haltern am See, western Germany on March 24, 2015, from where some of the Germanwings plane crash victims came. Sixteen German teenagers and two teachers on a school exchange trip were assumed to be among the 150 dead in the crash of a passenger jet in the French Alps, officials said. The head of low-budget airline Germanwings said there were 144 passengers and six crew on the Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps en route to Duesseldorf from Barcelona. AFP PHOTO / SASCHA SCHUERMANN (Photo credit should read SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
Young girls stand on March 24, 2015 in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school in Haltern am See, western Germany, from where some of the Germanwings plane crash victims came. Sixteen German teenagers and two teachers on a school exchange trip were assumed to be among the 150 dead in the crash of a passenger jet in the French Alps, officials said. The head of low-budget airline Germanwings said there were 144 passengers and six crew on the Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps en route to Duesseldorf from Barcelona. AFP PHOTO / SASCHA SCHUERMANN ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo credit should read SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
A mourning band is fixed at the town sign of Haltern am See, western Germany, where 18 passengers of the crashed Germanwings flight 4U-9525 came from on March 26, 2015. The crash of the budget airline Germanwings flight on March 24, 2015 in the French Alps, killed all 150 people aboard. The probe has focused on the co-pilot, after it was revealed the he initiated the fatal descent and refused to open the door to the pilot. AFP PHOTO / DPA / ROLF VENNENBERND GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read ROLF VENNENBERND/AFP/Getty Images)
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Shortly after the A320 reached cruise height, the captain told Lubitz he was leaving the cockpit and asked him to take over the radio, the BEA said. No reason was given, but Jouty noted it is normal for pilots to leave the cockpit to go to the toilet, for example.

Just over 30 seconds after the door closed, leaving Lubitz alone in the cockpit for the second time that day, he entered the instruction he had rehearsed.

By turning a dial, he ordered the plane's autopilot to descend to 100 feet, the BEA said. This was the lowest setting possible and enough to crash into mountains ahead. He then altered another dial to speed the jet up.

The report listed numerous warnings that went unanswered as the jet sped lower. These included four attempts to reach him from outside the cockpit by interphone and a crescendo of calls and knocks that ended with "violent blows" on the door.

As the jet steadily lost height, Marseille air traffic controllers tried 11 times to contact the Germanwings jet.

Just over two minutes before the crash the French military weighed in, trying three times to contact the crew on an emergency frequency, followed by a call from another plane.

Finally the aircraft's ground-proximity warning system kicked into life, urging the co-pilot to "pull up".

MEDICAL REBUFF

Reviewing Lubitz's training and career, the BEA said his professional level was judged to be "above standard".

However, it said the aeromedical center of Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, twice refused to renew his medical certificate in 2009 when he was undergoing treatment for depression. Lubitz broke off his pilot training from November 2008 to August 2009 due to his illness.

After gaining a certificate in July 2009, Lubitz's pilot's license, which is always valid for one year only, contained a note requiring aeromedical doctors to contact licensing authorities before the certificate could be extended or renewed.

Investigators in Germany have found torn-up sick notes, including for the day of the crash, indicating that Lubitz was concealing an illness from his employers. They also uncovered Internet searches made by Lubitz in the week before the tragedy on suicide methods and cockpit door security.

The BEA will issue a final report in about a year that may include recommendations on cockpit doors and the handling of pilots' medical records by the airline industry.

The French agency declined to speculate on any recommendations but said it would examine the balance to be struck between medical confidentiality and air safety.

It promised also to look at where to draw the line between the need to prevent possible attacks by passengers and the need to prevent a repeat of incidents such as the Germanwings crash.

Cockpit doors were specially strengthened to protect pilots after the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

The BEA said it had found six previous accidents since 1980 in which deliberate actions by crew may have played a part.

These included a remarkably similar crash of an Embraer 190 jet in Namibia in 2013 in which 33 people died after the co-pilot left the captain alone in the cockpit. The jet was ordered to the ground by changing autopilot altitude settings.

On at least two other occasions, there were two pilots in the cockpit but one was not able to counter the other's actions.

Many airlines have recently made it compulsory to have two people in the cockpit to help prevent accidents, but Jouty said accident records suggested this would not be an automatic cure.

(Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by James Regan, Andrew Callus and David Stamp)


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