PARIS — Information retrieved from the “black box” data recorder of a doomed German jet shows its co-pilot repeatedly accelerated the plane before it slammed into the French Alps, investigators said Friday.
France’s air accident investigation agency, BEA, provided the disturbing new details a day after a gendarme found the blackened data recorder buried in debris scattered along a mountainside ravine.
Based on an initial reading of the recorder, the revelation strengthened investigators’ early suspicions that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz meant to destroy the Germanwings A320.
French and German investigators are still trying to figure out why. All 150 people aboard Flight 9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf were killed in the March 24 crash, which has been a reminder of the trust that passengers place in pilots.
The BEA said the preliminary reading of the data recorder shows that the pilot used the automatic pilot to put the plane into a descent and then repeatedly during the descent adjusted the automatic pilot to speed up the plane.
The agency says it will continue studying the black box for more complete details of what happened. The Flight Data Recorder records aircraft parameters such as the speed, altitude, and actions of the pilot on the commands.
Recording from the plane’s other black box — the cockpit voice recorder — previously indicated that Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit and deliberately crashed the plane, investigators have said.
Mountain officers and trained dogs are continuing to search the crash site. When the terrain is fully cleared of body parts and belongings, a private company will take out the large airplane debris.
Hundreds of victims’ relatives have traveled to the region, officials say.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, visiting the area Friday in a visibly somber mood, praised residents who opened up their homes to grieving relatives as well as police and others.
behind the often-jarring recovery efforts.
“No one is ever prepared to face such an event,” he said. “And yet immediately, a show of solidarity got organized — one of an entire region, the beautiful solidarity of people from the mountains; the one also through the state services.”
Separately Friday, the Paris prosecutor’s office announced it is looking into claims that information from the earliest phase of investigation into the crash was wrongly leaked to the media.