REFILE-UPDATE 3-German pilot researched suicide, cockpit doors; second … – Reuters


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By Tom, Käckenhoff and Jean-Francois Rosnoblet

DUESSELDORF/MARSEILLE, Germany, April 2 (Reuters) – The
co-pilot suspected of deliberately flying a Germanwings
plane into the French Alps searched the Internet for
ways to commit suicide shortly before the crash that killed 150
people, German prosecutors said on Thursday.

Judicial officials in his home town of Duesseldorf said a
computer found in his home also had revealed searches on cockpit
doors and safety precautions related to them.

The growing evidence of suicide preparations came as French
police discovered the second ‘black box’ flight recorder,
raising their hopes of showing in detail how the co-pilot,
27-year-old Andreas Lubitz, set the plane on its fatal course.

If intact, the Airbus A320’s Flight Data Recorder would
deliver a detailed readout of hundreds of parameters, including
any commands issued from the co-pilot’s seat during the
Duesseldorf-bound flight on March 24.

It is expected to be thoroughly analyzed by France’s BEA
crash investigation authority, which will try to match the data
with cockpit voice recordings and information from ground radar.

There is a “reasonable hope” that the data can be recovered
intact despite the box’s being damaged in the crash, Marseille
prosecutor Brice Robin said.

The same prosecutor shocked the aviation world last Friday
by alleging that the separate cockpit voice recorder, which was
found within hours of the crash, indicated Lubitz had crashed
the jet on purpose after barricading himself at the controls.

But investigators are still struggling to understand why
Lubitz would take the controls of the Airbus A320, lock the
captain out of the reinforced cockpit during a toilet break and
steer the jet into a mountainside.

In Duesseldorf, prosecutors said Lubitz had “looked for
information on ways to commit suicide” in computer searches that
took place between March 16 and 23, one day before the crash.

“On at least one day, the person had for several minutes
undertaken searches related to cockpit doors and their safety
precautions,” they added in a statement.

The German newspaper Bild reported on Thursday that Lubitz
had allegedly lied to doctors, telling them he was on sick leave
rather than flying commercial planes.

Robin said 150 sets of DNA had been found in the wreckage,
corresponding to the number of passengers and crew on board the
low-cost carrier’s jet.

He stressed, though, that the discovery of 150 DNA sets did
not mean that all the victims had been found.

At each matching of a DNA set to a victims, families will
immediately be informed, he told reporters in Marseille.

In addition, 470 personal items have been found. They
included 42 mobile phones, but Robin said they looked unlikely
to yield much useful.

“These telephones are in a very, very damaged condition,
which will certainly make extracting information from them very,
very difficult,” he said.

After a nine-day hunt, the second data recorder was found by
a French gendarme in a ravine, buried 20 centimetres down in a
place that had been searched several times already, Robin said.
It had caught fire and was blackened and damaged.

Black boxes — which are actually bright orange — are
designed to withstand temperatures of 1,100 degrees Celsius for
up to an hour, according to manufacturer Honeywell.

Germanwings parent Lufthansa said it welcomed the
discovery of the second box and hoped it would yield results.

The airline has come under pressure to explain what it knew
about the co-pilot’s history of depression and could face
substantial claims for damages, according to legal experts.

It said this week that when Lubitz resumed pilot training
after a break in 2009, he provided the company flight school
with medical documents showing he had gone through a “previous
episode of severe depression”.

(Additional reporting by Gerard Bon, Sophie Louet, Madeline
Chambers, Caroline Copley, Victoria Bryan; Writing by Tim
Hepher; Editing by Andrew Callus, Alison Williams and Larry
King)

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