Seeking clues about mindset of Andreas Lubitz, Germanwings co-pilot

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Montabaur, Germany (CNN)The house where Andreas Lubitz’s parents live was shuttered Thursday and guarded by police.

A group of men, perhaps investigators, were the only ones granted access.

This town in western Germany is where Lubitz, the 28-year-old co-pilot authorities now blame for the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, pursued his love of flying from a young age.
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Police also searched Lubitz’s apartment in Dusseldorf, about 85 miles (136 km) away, the city’s police spokesman said.

A team of five investigators went through the apartment, police spokesman Markus Niesczery said in televised remarks, “looking for clues as to what the co-pilot’s motivation might have been, if he did indeed bring the plane down.”

Officials have said they’re still baffled about why Lubitz, who passed a psychological test when he was hired and has no known ties to terrorism, would set the Airbus A320 on course to crash into the French Alps. But Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said that’s what happened, based on audio from the cockpit voice recorder, which indicated that the pilot was locked out of the cockpit as Lubitz steered the plane.

It seems, Robin said, that Lubitz “wanted to destroy the aircraft.”

But why?

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‘This is just inconceivable’
At a club on the outskirts of Montabaur, pilots who knew Lubitz said they were shocked to hear what investigators said.

They said the man they know never would have deliberately crashed a plane.

Between the ages of 14 and 20, Lubitz was a regular fixture at the gliding club.

“(He was) a very normal young person, full of energy,” Klaus Radke said. “What can I say? He had a bright future. He made his hobby into his job. What more can you hope to achieve?”

The authorities’ explanation doesn’t ring true for Peter Ruecker, another pilot who knew him from the flight club.

“Knowing Andreas, this is just inconceivable for me,” Ruecker told the Reuters news agency.

“He was a lot of fun, even though he was perhaps sometimes a bit quiet,” Ruecker said. “He was just another boy, like so many others here.”

A neighbor told Reuters that Lubitz “was very interested in things which are going on around him.”

“It’s a very good family,” the neighbor said. “They have a good connection within the family and they are engaged in the community.”

An 8-minute descent to death

‘Interrupted’ training
Lubitz had been with Germanwings, a budget airline owned by Lufthansa, since September 2013 and had completed 630 hours of flight time, the airline’s media office said.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told reporters that Lubitz “interrupted” his training, which he began in 2008. That break lasted several months, he said, but added that such an interruption isn’t uncommon.

Spohr said he couldn’t give any information about why the co-pilot had stopped and then restarted his training, which took place at the Lufthansa flight training center in Bremen.

If it was for medical reasons, he said, then that information would have been private before the crash, he said, but it will be part of information gathered during the investigation.

Spohr said Lufthansa pilots get medical testing but do not undergo regular or routine psychological testing once they are flying. However, the airline does consider an applicant’s psychological state, along with other factors, when hiring pilots, he said.

Lubitz and the captain passed a psychological test when they were hired, he said.

“We don’t only look at competence but we also give a lot of room to psychological capabilities,” Spohr said.

“He was 100% set to fly without restrictions,” he added. “His flight performance was perfect. There was nothing to worry about.”

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Diana Magnay reported from Montabaur. Catherine E. Shoichet and Ashley Fantz reported from Atlanta. CNN’s Fred Pleitgen contributed to this report from Cologne, Germany. CNN’s Mark Thompson, Eliott C. McLaughlin Laura Smith-Spark and Bharati Naik also contributed to this report.