All Germanwings air crash victims have been identified and the remains will be returned to their families, a French prosecutor says.
The plane crashed in the French Alps on March 24 with 150 people on board.
Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed the plane after locking the pilot out of the cockpit, investigators say.
Experts have spent six weeks conducting DNA tests on the remains.
“The 150 death certificates can now be signed, as well as the 150 burial permits,” said Brice Robin, Marseille’s city prosecutor.
Brice Robin had previously said it was Andreas Lubitz’s “intention to destroy [the] plane”, which was flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf.
Among the victims was a group of 16 students, 14 girls and two boys, and two of their teachers, from Joseph-Koenig school in Haltern, western Germany.
They were travelling back from a Spanish exchange program on the Germanwings flight.
The victims were from 18 countries, including Australia, Argentina and Japan, but most of those on board were either Spanish or German.
The plane, which took off from Barcelona, made its last contact with air traffic control half an hour later, before descending over the following ten minutes.
The Airbus plane crashed in a remote, snow-covered region in the French Alps.
On March 26, French investigators said information from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) found at the crash zone revealed that Andreas Lubitz had taken over the controls of the plane and sent it into a dive intentionally.
A full investigation report is expected to be completed in a year.
According to a report by French investigators, Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane that crashed in the French Alps in March, may have practiced a rapid descent on a previous flight.
The French investigators’ report said Andreas Lubitz repeatedly set the plane for an unauthorized descent earlier that day.
Andreas Lubitz is suspected of deliberately crashing the Airbus 320, killing all 150 people on board.
The co-pilot had locked the flight captain out of the cockpit.
The plane had been flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf on March 24.
The alteration of the flight settings occurred on the plane’s outbound flight from Dusseldorf to Barcelona on the same day, the preliminary report by accident investigation agency BEA said.
It added that on several occasions – again with the captain out of the cockpit – the altitude dial was set to 100ft, the lowest possible reading, despite instructions by air traffic control in Bordeaux to set it to 35,000ft and then 21,000ft.
It was also reset on one occasion to 49,000ft, the maximum altitude.
The changes apparently happened over a 5-minute period at about 07:30 on the day of the crash, starting 30 seconds after the captain left the cockpit.
“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 100ft and he did it several times,” BEA director Remy Jouty told Reuters news agency.
The outward flight left Dusseldorf at 06:01, arriving in Barcelona at 07:57.
Andreas Lubitz is known to have suffered depression in the past and last month German prosecutors revealed that he had researched suicide methods and the security of cockpit doors.
Voice recorder findings suggest Andreas Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit on the doomed flight.
The BEA’s preliminary report also discloses more detail of what happened on board the flight that crashed.
The flight data recorder appears to show Andreas Lubitz repeatedly increasing the aircraft’s speed once he had programmed its descent.
On several occasions, both air traffic control and France’s air defense system tried to contact the plane.
Signals from the cabin intercom, followed by knocking on the cockpit door and then “noises similar to violent blows” are heard on the voice recorder as the captain tries to re-enter the cockpit, according to the report.
BEA is expected to release its final report in a year, which the focus on “systemic failings” and cockpit security.
The search for Germanwings flight 4U 9525 victims’ bodies at the crash site has ended, French authorities say.
Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz is said to have crashed his aircraft in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.
Identification of the victims will continue with analysis of the DNA found and debris will carry on being removed.
Meanwhile reports said the European Commission took issue with Germany’s aviation authority before the crash.
Wall Street Journal said it was told to “remedy long-standing problems”.
The aviation authority, the Luftfahrtbundesamt (LBA), was told in November to sort out problems including a lack of staff which could have limited its ability to carry out checks on planes and crew, the publication reports.
In light of investigators believing co-pilot Andreas Lubitz crashed the plane deliberately, the way airline crew are vetted has come under scrutiny.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) “had pointed out several cases of non-conformity,” spokesman Dominique Fouda told AFP news agency.
A European Commission spokesman said: “All EU member states have findings and this is a normal and regular occurrence.
“It is part of a continuous system of oversight – findings are followed by corrective action, similar to an audit process.”
A spokeswoman for the LBA said the authority had answered several criticisms leveled at it during the audits and those responses were now being assessed by the EASA.
France’s air accident authority has said its investigations will include a study of “systemic weaknesses” that could have led to the disaster, including psychological profiling.
Lufthansa, the parent company of budget airline Germanwings, has said Andreas Lubitz disclosed that he had had severe depression in 2009 while training for his pilot’s license.
It has also emerged that Andreas Lubitz received treatment for suicidal tendencies at one point before getting his pilot’s license.
German prosecutors found torn-up sick notes at Andreas Lubitz’s home, including one covering the day of the crash.
He was also found to have researched suicide methods and cockpit security on a tablet computer in the days preceding the disaster.
Lufthansa’s chief executive Carsten Spohr has said he is “very very sorry that such a terrible accident could have happened” and that the airline was utterly unaware of any health issues that could have compromised Andreas Lubitz’s fitness to fly.
Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had researched suicide methods and the security of cockpit doors in the week before the crash, German prosecutors say.
Andreas Lubitz, 27, is suspected of deliberately crashing Germanwings flight 4U 9525 into the French Alps on March 24.
German prosecutors said internet searches were found on a tablet used by Andreas Lubitz.
Meanwhile, the second “black box” flight recorder from the plane has been recovered.
There were no survivors among the 150 people on board the Airbus A320.
The German prosecutors said internet searches made on the tablet found in Andreas Lubitz’s Duesseldorf flat included “ways to commit suicide” and “cockpit doors and their security provisions”.
Spokesman Ralf Herrenbrueck said: “He concerned himself on one hand with medical treatment methods, on the other hand with types and ways of going about a suicide.
“In addition, on at least one day he concerned himself with search terms about cockpit doors and their security precautions.”
Andreas Lubitz had been deemed fit to fly by his employers at Germanwings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa.
Based on voice recordings from the first flight recorder recovered almost immediately at the crash site, investigators believe Andreas Lubitz intentionally crashed Flight 9525, which was travelling from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.
The second “black box” recovered is the flight data recorder (FDR) with readings for nearly every instrument seen as vital to the investigation into the crash.
If the flight recorder is not too badly damaged, French investigators hope to retrieve technical information on the time of radio transmissions and the plane’s acceleration, airspeed, altitude and direction.
Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz suspected of deliberately crashing Germanwings flight 4U 9525 into the Alps had disclosed an earlier bout of depression, Lufthansa has said.
Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, said last week that Andreas Lubitz had taken a break from flight school training, but refused to say why.
It has now shared emails from 2009 which show Andreas Lubitz told instructors he had suffered from “severe depression”.
Meanwhile, all human remains from the crash have reportedly been recovered.
French authorities told AFP news agency that the remains of all the victims had been removed from the remote ravine where the plane went down, but mountain troops would return to the scene on Wednesday to search for personal belongings.
The search for the second flight recorder will also continue.
A recording from the cockpit of the aircraft suggests Andreas Lubitz, 27, deliberately caused the disaster on March 24, which killed 150 people.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr previously said that the company was not aware of anything that could have driven the co-pilot to crash the Airbus A320.
“He was 100% fit to fly without any restrictions or conditions,” he told reporters.
It has now emerged, as part of the airline’s internal research, that Andreas Lubitz had sent information about his depressive episode to the Lufthansa flight school in Bremen, when he resumed training after an interruption of several months.
Andreas Lubitz subsequently passed all medical tests and eventually secured his license. He started working with Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings in 2013.
German prosecutors said on March 30 that Andreas Lubitz had received treatment for “suicidal tendencies” before completing his training.
However, Lufthansa said his medical records were subject to doctor-patient confidentiality and it had no knowledge of their contents.
The airline has set aside an additional $300 million (€280 million) to cover possible costs arising from the crash.
The money is separate from the $54,250 available to the relatives of each passenger to cover short-term expenses.
Airlines are obliged to compensate relatives for proven damages of up to a limit of about $157,000, regardless of what caused the crash. Higher compensation is possible if an airline is held liable.
None of the victims’ bodies were found intact after the plane’s 430mph impact, but different strands of DNA have been identified.
French President Francois Hollande said on March 31 that all 150 victims would be identified by the end of the week.
Lufthansa has put aside an additional $300 million to cover possible costs arising from last week’s Germanwings plane crash.
The German airline, which owns low-cost Germanwings, said the money would cover “all costs arising in connection with the case”.
Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande said the 150 victims would be identified by the end of the week.
An access road to the crash site has been completed to help speed up the recovery of bodies.
However, rescuers have warned the operation could still take several months.
Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, President Francois Hollande praised the work of scientists at the scene in the French Alps.
“The French interior minister confirmed that by the end of the week at the latest it will be possible to identify all of the victims thanks to DNA samples,” he added.
None of the victims were found intact after the plane’s 430mph impact, but different strands of DNA have been identified at the site.
Germany says that the $300 million being put aside by Lufthansa is separate from the $54,250 (€50,000) available to the relatives of each passenger to cover short-term expenses.
Airlines are obliged to compensate relatives for proven damages of up to a limit of about $157,000 (€135,000) – regardless of what caused the crash – but higher compensation is possible if an airline is held liable.
On March 30 it emerged that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, had at one point received treatment for suicidal tendencies before getting his pilot license.
Andreas Lubitz, 27, is suspected of deliberately crashing the plane in the Alps, killing all 150 people on board.
Officials in Duesseldorf said the investigation so far had revealed no clue as to his motives.
German prosecutors say he underwent psychotherapy before getting his pilot’s license and that medical records from that period referred to “suicidal tendencies.”
Lufthansa says that Andreas Lubitz’s medical records were subject to doctor-patient confidentiality and it had no knowledge of their contents.
Lufthansa also announced on March 31 that it had cancelled plans to celebrate its 60th anniversary on April 15.
On April 17, the airline will broadcast live coverage of a state memorial service at Cologne Cathedral.
Germanwings flight 4U 9525 crashed near the French Alpine village of Le Vernet on March 24, flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.
The cockpit voice recorder suggested Andreas Lubitz crashed the plane deliberately after locking pilot Patrick Sondenheimer out of the cockpit.
The data recorder, which tracks the plane’s altitude, speed and direction, has not yet been found.
Lufthansa board chairman Kay Kratky on March 30 warned it may have been too badly damaged and may not be sending signals.
Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of the crashed Germanwings plane, had received treatment for suicidal tendencies before getting his pilot license, investigators say, but not recently.
Andreas Lubitz, 27, is suspected of deliberately crashing Germanwings flight 4U 9525 in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.
Officials in Duesseldorf said the investigation to this point had revealed no clue to any motive.
So far, DNA strands of 80 of the victims have been found.
Duesseldorf public prosecutor Christoph Kumpa said that “several years” before Andreas Lubitz became a pilot he “had at that time been in treatment of a psychotherapist because of what is documented as being suicidal”.
The prosecutor added: “In the following period, and until recently, further doctor’s visits took place, resulting in sick notes without any suicidal tendencies or aggression against others being recorded.”
No specific dates were given. Andreas Lubitz enrolled in training with Lufthansa in 2008 and became a pilot in 2013. He was diagnosed with a serious depressive episode in 2009 and received treatment for a year and a half, media reports say.
Christoph Kumpa added: “There still is no evidence that the co-pilot said beforehand that he would do what we have to assume was done and we haven’t found a letter or anything like that that contains a confession.
“We have not found anything in his surrounding [environment] – be it personal or his family or his professional surrounding – that is giving us any hints that enable us to say anything about his motivation.”
There had been some media reports that Andreas Lubitz had problems with his vision, possibly a detached retina.
Christoph Kumpa said there was no documentation on any eyesight problems that were caused by an “organic illness”.
There has also been widespread speculation about Andreas Lubitz’s romantic life.
One unconfirmed report has suggested his long-term girlfriend was pregnant, while an ex-girlfriend revealed that he vowed last year to do something memorable.
“One day I’m going to do something that will change the whole system, and everyone will know my name and remember,” she quoted him as saying.
The Germanwings plane crashed near the French Alpine village of Le Vernet on Marchm 24, flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.
The cockpit voice recorder suggested Andreas Lubitz crashed the plane deliberately after locking Captain Patrick Sondenheimer out of the cockpit.
Patrick Sondenheimer is heard banging on the door, screaming: “Open the damn door!”
The data recorder, which tracks the plane’s altitude, speed and direction, has not yet been found.
Lufthansa board chairman Kay Kratky on March 30 warned it may have been too badly damaged and may not be sending signals.
Bad weather has halted helicopter flights to the site, forcing investigators to get there on foot.
An access road to the remote site is being dug by a bulldozer to provide all-terrain vehicles with access to the area and could be completed by Monday evening.
A support centre for victims’ families has been opened at a hotel in Marseille, from where Germanwings plans to provide counseling and visits to the crash site.
In Germany, a 100-strong task force is investigating the crash. While 50 police work on the murder inquiry, the others are obtaining DNA samples to help identify victims’ remains.
An official memorial service for those onboard flight 4U 9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf will be held on April 17 in Germany’s most famous church – Cologne Cathedral – in the presence of President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz sought treatment for vision problems that may have jeopardized his ability to continue working as a pilot, the New York Times reported.
Andreas Lubitz, 28, was flying Germanwings flight 4U 9525 that slammed into a mountain in the French Alps on March 24.
The revelation of the possible trouble with his eyes added a new element to the emerging portrait of Andreas Lubitz, who the authorities say was also being treated for psychological issues and had hidden aspects of his medical condition from Germanwings. Antidepressants have been found during a search of his apartment on March 26.
It is not clear how severe Andreas Lubitz’s eye problems were or how they might have been related to his psychological condition.
Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit of the Airbus A320 jetliner on the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, ignoring demands from Captain Patrick Sonderheimer to be let back in, when the plane crashed.
French prosecutor Brice Robin said cockpit voice recordings and other data about the flight have revealed that Andreas Lubitz deliberately guided the plane, with another 149 people on board, into the mountains.
Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed his plane in the French Alps, killing 150 people on March 24.
2009: Andreas Lubitz breaks off pilot training while still in his early 20’s after suffering “depressions and anxiety attacks”, the German tabloid Bild reports, quoting Lufthansa medical files. He resumes training after 18 months of treatment, according to Bild.
2013: Andreas Lubitz qualifies “with flying colors” as pilot, according to Lufthansa.
2013-2015: Medical file quoted by Bild marks Andreas Lubitz as requiring “specific regular medical examination” but no details are given.
February 2015: Andreas Lubitz undergoes diagnosis at Duesseldorf University Clinic for an unspecified illness; clinic has clarified the illness was not depression.
March 10, 2015: Andreas Lubitz again attends Duesseldorf University Clinic.
March 24, 2015: Andrea Lubitz is believed to have deliberately crashed airliner, killing himself and 149 others.
March 26, 2015: Prosecutors announce that two sick notes have been found torn up at Andreas Lubitz’s addresses in Germany.
Germanwings flight 4U 9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz hid the details of an existing illness from his employers, German prosecutors say.
They said they found torn-up sick notes in his homes, including one covering the day of the crash.
In their report, Duesseldorf prosecutors did not say what illness Andreas Lubitz had.
German media have said internal aviation authority documents suggested Andreas Lubitz suffered depression and required ongoing assessment.
Prosecutors said there was no evidence of a political or religious motive to his actions, and no suicide note was found.
Andreas Lubitz, 28, and 149 passengers and crew died when Germanwings flight 4U 9525 crashed in the French Alps on March 24.
Data from the plane’s voice recorder suggest Andreas Lubitz purposely started an eight-minute descent into mountains as the pilot was locked out of the cockpit.
In their statement, prosecutors said they seized medical documents from Andreas Lubitz’s two residences – his Duesseldorf flat and his parents’ home north of Frankfurt – which indicated “an existing illness and appropriate medical treatment”.
But “the fact that, among the documents found, there were sick notes – torn-up, current and for the day of the crash – leads to the provisional assessment that the deceased was hiding his illness from his employer”, the report states.
Germanwings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, refused to comment on the new information, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier on Friday, German media reported that Andreas Lubitz’s notes say he suffered a serious depressive episode when he finished training in 2009.
He went on to receive treatment for a year and a half, the German newspaper Bild reports.
Internal documents quoted by Bild and German broadcaster ARD say a note on Andreas Lubitz’s aviation authority file recommended regular psychological assessment.
Andreas Lubitz’s employers have confirmed that his training was interrupted for several months six years ago, without explaining why.
Lufthansa chief Carsten Spohr has insisted that Andreas Lubitz was only able to resume training after his suitability was “re-established”.
“He passed all the subsequent tests and checks with flying colors,” Carsten Spohr was quoted as saying.
Recovery efforts are continuing at the crash site on the third day following the crash.
Investigators continue to comb the crash site for body parts, debris and the second “black box”, which records flight data and still has not been found.
Family members of some of the passengers and crew who died have visited Seyne-les-Alpes, near the crash site.
They were accompanied by psychologists, paramedics and Red Cross workers, and a youth centre in the town was set up to receive them.
Families are providing DNA samples to allow for identification of victims’ remains.
Many have now left the crash site in the French Alps but more relatives are expected over coming days, including loved ones of a Colombian victim.
German police have seized possessions belonging to Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz who apparently crashed his plane in the French Alps killing all 150 people on board, as they investigate his possible motives.
They said they had found a significant clue, according to media reports.
Data from the plane’s voice recorder suggest Andreas Lubitz had deliberately started a descent while the pilot was locked out of the cockpit.
Germanwings flight 9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf crashed on March 24.
Several airlines have now pledged to change their rules to ensure at least two crew members are present in the cockpit at all times.
The revelations by the German police come after officers searched Andreas Lubitz’s flat in Duesseldorf and the house the 27-year-old shared with his parents in Montabaur, north of Frankfurt, late on Thursday.
A number of items were removed – including boxes and a computer – from the two properties.
“We have found something which will now be taken for tests. We cannot say what it is at the moment but it may be a very significant clue to what has happened,” the Daily Mail quoted police spokesman Markus Niesczery as saying.
However, police said the discovery was not a suicide note.
There were also unconfirmed reports in the German media that Andreas Lubitz had suffered from depression.
Meanwhile, German government officials said Andreas Lubitz was not known to the country’s security services.
Earlier, Carsten Spohr, the head of Lufthansa, the German carrier that owns Germanwings, said the co-pilot had undergone intensive training and “was 100% fit to fly without any caveats”.
Carsten Spohr said Andreas Lubitz’s training had been interrupted for several months six years ago, but did not say why.
The training was resumed after “the suitability of the candidate was re-established”, he said.
On March 26, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said the co-pilot appeared to want to “destroy the plane”.
Citing information from the recovered “black box” voice recorder, Brice Robin said Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit just before the crash.
Brice Robin said there was “absolute silence in the cockpit” as the pilot fought to re-enter it.
Air traffic controllers made repeated attempts to contact the aircraft, the prosecutor added, but to no avail.
Passengers were not aware of the impending crash “until the very last moment” when screams could be heard, Brice Robin said, adding that they died instantly.
“We hear the pilot ask the co-pilot to take control of the plane and we hear at the same time the sound of a seat moving backwards and the sound of a door closing,” the prosecutor said.
Brice Robin said the pilot, named in the German media as Patrick Sonderheimer, had probably gone to the restroom.
Andreas Lubitz was the Germanwings co-pilot who officials say locked out Captain Patrick Sonderheimer from the cockpit and deliberately crashed Flight 9525 into the French Alps, killing all 150 people onboard.
French prosecutor Brice Robin said Andreas Lubitz, 28, locked the doors of the cockpit after the captain went to the restroom and sent the plane into descent with 150 people on board on march 24.
Investigators will now pore over Andreas Lubitz’s background to try and ascertain his exact mental state in the days leading up to the plane crash.
Andreas Lubitz lived with his parents at their home in the western town of Montabaur, which has now become a scene of deep media intrigue.
Police officers have been patrolling the quiet town to keep reporters and photographers away from the front door.
Andreas Lubitz first took to the skies as a teenager, at the LSC Westerwald e.V. glider club in Montabaur.
He learned to fly in a sleek white ASK-21 two-seat glider when he was around 14 or 15-years-old, according to the club’s chairman Klaus Radke.
In 2008, Andreas Lubitz was accepted as a Lufthansa trainee, after obtaining his glider pilot’s license, and enrolled at the company’s training school in Bremen.
In 2014, he joined subsidiary airline Germanwings and began working as a co-pilot. He had flown a total of 630 hours before Tuesday’s fatal crash.
“He was 100% fit to fly without any restrictions or conditions,” Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told reporters in Cologne.
Those who knew Andreas Lubitz have described him as a quiet but affable character who gave no indications he was harboring any harmful intent.
Klaus Radke told the Associated Press that he saw Andreas Lubitz last autumn, when he returned to the club to renew his glider license.
“He seemed very enthusiastic about his career. I can’t remember anything where something wasn’t right,” he said.
Klaus Radke rejected the prosecutor’s claims that the plane was brought down intentionally. He said: “I don’t see how anyone can draw such conclusions before the investigation is completed.”
Peter Ruecker, a long-time member of club, also insisted Andreas Lubitz seemed “very happy” during their last meeting.
“I’m just speechless. I don’t have any explanation for this. Knowing Andreas, this is just inconceivable for me,” he said.
Prosecutor Brice Robin said there were no grounds to suspect that Andres Lubitz had carried out a terrorist attack. He refused to discuss his religious background.
“Suicide” was also the wrong word to describe actions which killed so many other people, Brice Robin said.
“I don’t necessarily call it suicide when you have responsibility for 100 or so lives.”
Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U 9525 that crashed in the French Alps on March 24, appeared to want to “destroy the plane”, officials said.
Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin, citing information from the “black box” voice recorder, said co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit.
He intentionally started a descent while the pilot was locked out.
Brice Robin said there was “absolute silence in the cockpit” as the pilot fought to re-enter it.
He said air traffic controllers made repeated attempts to contact the aircraft, but to no avail. Passengers could be heard screaming just before the crash, he added.
Details are emerging of Andreas Lubitz’s past – although his apparent motives for causing the crash remain a mystery.
Andreas Lubitz, 28, had undergone intensive training and “was 100% fit to fly without any caveats”, according to Carsten Spohr, the head of Lufthansa, the German carrier that owns Germanwings.
Carsten Spohr said Andreas Lubitz’s training had been interrupted briefly six years ago but was resumed after “the suitability of the candidate was re-established”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that Andreas Lubitz’s apparent actions had given the tragedy a “new, simply incomprehensible dimension”.
The Airbus 320 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf hit a mountain, killing all 144 passengers and six crew, after an eight-minute descent.
“We hear the pilot ask the co-pilot to take control of the plane and we hear at the same time the sound of a seat moving backwards and the sound of a door closing,” Brice Robin told reporters.
He said the pilot, named in the German media as Patrick S, had probably gone to the toilet.
“At that moment, the co-pilot is controlling the plane by himself. While he is alone, the co-pilot presses the buttons of the flight monitoring system to put into action the descent of the aeroplane.
“He operated this button for a reason we don’t know yet, but it appears that the reason was to destroy this plane.”
Andreas Lubitz was alive until the final impact, the prosecutor said.
Brice Robin said “the most plausible interpretation” was that the co-pilot had deliberately barred the pilot from re-entering the cockpit.
He added that Andreas Lubitz was “not known by us” to have any links to extremism or terrorism.
Lufthansa has arranged two special flights for families and friends on March 26 – one from Barcelona and one from Duesseldorf – to Marseille, and both groups will travel on by road. Separately, some relatives who did not want to fly are travelling by bus from Barcelona.
The second “black box” – that records flight data – has still not been found.
According to new reports, one of the two pilots of the Germanwings crashed plane was locked out of the cockpit.
Early findings from the cockpit voice recorder suggest the pilot made desperate efforts to get back in, sources close to the investigation say.
The Airbus 320 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf crashed in the southern French Alps on March 24 after a rapid eight-minute descent.
Relatives of the 150 passengers and crew who died are to visit the site.
Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, will operate two special flights on March 25 – one from Barcelona and one from Duesseldorf – to Marseille, and both groups will travel on by road.
Germanwings chief Thomas Winkelmann said 72 passengers were German citizens, including 16 high school students returning from an exchange trip.
Spain’s government said 51 of the dead were Spanish.
Other victims were from Australia, Argentina, Britain, Iran, Venezuela, the US, the Netherlands, Colombia, Mexico, Japan, Denmark and Israel.
On March 25, French officials said usable data had been extracted from the cockpit voice recorder but that it was too early to draw any conclusions.
Remi Jouty, director of the French aviation investigative agency, said he hoped investigators would have the “first rough ideas in a matter of days” but the full analysis could take weeks or even months.
However, the New York Times quoted an unnamed investigator as saying that one of the pilots – it is not clear if it is the captain or the first officer – left the cockpit and had been unable to get back in.
Photo AFP/Getty Images
“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer,” the investigator said, describing audio from the recorder.
“And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer. You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”
A source close to the investigation told a similar story to the AFP news agency.
An alarm indicating proximity to the ground can be heard before the moment of impact, the source adds.
Remi Jouty said the second “black box” – the flight data recorder – had not been found and he could not confirm an earlier statement by President Francois Hollande that its casing had been recovered.
The investigator said the plane’s last communication was a routine one with air traffic control.
The plane confirmed instructions to continue on its planned flight path but then began its descent a minute later.
Remi Jouty said controllers observed the plane beginning to descend and tried to contact the pilots but without success.
He ruled out an explosion, saying: “The plane was flying right to the end.”
Remi Jouty said: “At this stage, clearly, we are not in a position to have the slightest explanation or interpretation of the reasons that could have led this plane to descend… or the reasons why it did not respond to attempts to contact it by air traffic controllers.”
Families and friends of the victims are expected to arrive at the crash site at Meolans-Revels later on Thursday.
Separately, a bus carrying 14 relatives of Spanish victims left Barcelona on March 25 for the crash area, because they did not want to fly.
In France, special teams have been prepared to assist the families during their visit.
On March 25, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy visited the crash site.
Francois Hollande told his counterparts: “The French people are here shoulder to shoulder with you during this ordeal. Everything will be done to find, identify and hand back to the families the bodies of their loved ones.”
Both he and Angela Merkel said they would do everything they could to find out the cause of the crash.
Germanwings is a low-cost airline owned by Lufthansa, Germany’s main carrier.