Co-pilot was 'very happy' with Germanwings job

2015-03-27 05:49
A picture from a community page on Facebook of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz posing in San Francisco, US. (<a href="" target="_blank">Facebook, Andreas Lubitz</a>)

A picture from a community page on Facebook of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz posing in San Francisco, US. (Facebook, Andreas Lubitz)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Montabaur - Andreas Lubitz never appeared anything but thrilled to have landed a pilot's job with Germanwings, according to those who helped him learn to fly as a teenager in this town in the forested hills of western Germany.

On Thursday, French prosecutors said Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, "intentionally" crashed the jet into the side of a mountain on Tuesday in the French Alps.

Members of his hometown flight club in Montabaur, where he renewed his glider license last fall, told The Associated Press that the 27-year-old Lubitz appeared to be happy with the job he had at the airline, a low-cost carrier in the Lufthansa Group.

After starting as a co-pilot with Germanwings in September 2013, Lubitz was upbeat when he returned to the LSC Westerwald e.V glider club to update his glider pilots' license with about 20 takeoffs.

"He was happy he had the job with Germanwings and he was doing well," said longtime club member Peter Ruecker, who watched Lubitz learn to fly. "He was very happy. He gave off a good feeling."

Club chairperson Klaus Radke said he rejects the Marseille prosecutors' conclusion that Lubitz deliberately put the Germanwings flight into a descent and dove it straight into the French Alps after the pilot had briefly left the cockpit.

"I don't see how anyone can draw such conclusions before the investigation is completed," he told the AP.


At the house of Lubitz's parents, the curtains were drawn and four police cars were parked outside. Police blocked the media from the single-family, two-story home in a prosperous new subdivision on the edge of Montabaur, a town 60km northwest of Frankfurt.

A team of investigators entered the home and, on Thursday evening, people could be seen emerging with blue bags, a big cardboard box and what looked like a large computer. Another person who came out was shielded from reporters with a coat by police.

Investigators also searched the apartment that Lubitz kept in Duesseldorf in an upscale three-story building in an affluent neighbourhood.

In Montabaur, neighbour Johannes Rossmann said Lubitz appeared to be in good health and was a regular jogger. He described the pilot as calm and low-key.

"I do not believe he killed himself and claimed other people's lives," the 22-year-old Rossmann said. "I can't believe it until it is 100% confirmed."

‘Quiet but friendly’

Lubitz learned to fly at the glider club in a sleek white ASK-21 two-seat glider, which sits in a small hangar today on the side of the facility's grass runway. Ruecker said he remembers Lubitz as "rather quiet but friendly" when he first showed up at the club as a 14- or 15-year-old saying he wanted to learn to fly.

On Thursday, a large hawk circled lazily over the runway, capturing the same gentle updrafts that glider pilots use.

After obtaining his glider pilot's license as a teenager, he was accepted as a Lufthansa trainee after finishing the tough German preparatory school at the town's Mons-Tabor High School.

According to Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr, Lubitz trained in Bremen, Germany and in Phoenix, Arizona, starting in 2008. He said there was a "several-month" gap in his training six years ago but he couldn't say what the reason was for that.

After the break, Lubitz "not only passed all medical tests but also his flight training, all flying tests and checks," Spohr told reporters, saying the co-pilot was "100% fit to fly, without any limitations."

After completing his training, Lubitz spent an 11-month waiting period working as a flight attendant before becoming a co-pilot on the Germanwings A320 fleet. Spohr said such a waiting period is not unusual at Lufthansa.

Lubitz had logged 630 hours' flight time by the day of the crash, the airline said.

Ruecker said Lubitz had a girlfriend and gave no indication during his fall visit that anything was wrong.

"He seemed very enthusiastic" about his career, he said. "I can't remember anything where something wasn't right."

‘Nothing untoward’

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said German authorities had checked intelligence and police databases on the day of the crash and Lufthansa told them that regular security checks also turned up nothing untoward about the co-pilot.

"According to our knowledge at this point, and after comparing the information we have, there is no terrorist background for him as a person," de Maiziere said.

Lubitz's family could not immediately be reached, but a Facebook page bearing Lubitz's name showed him as a smiling in a dark brown jacket posing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ruecker confirmed that the photo was of Lubitz.

The page, which was wiped from Facebook sometime in the past two days and restored Thursday as an "In Memory" site, said Lubitz was from Montabaur. It also lists him as having several aviation-themed interests, including the A320, the model of plane that crashed Tuesday; Lufthansa, the German aviation company; and Phoenix Goodyear Airport, in Arizona.

The Facebook page also included a link to a result in the 2011 Lufthansa half-marathon in Frankfurt, where a runner with the nickname "flying_andy" ran the course in a 1 hour, 48 minutes, 51 seconds.

Read more on:    germanwings  |  andreas lubitz  |  germany  |  france  |  aviation  |  germanwings crash  |  air crashes

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.