Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz described in home town as ‘normal guy’

Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who prosecutors say may have deliberately crashed a plane into the Alps on Tuesday killing 150 people, was described by acquaintances in his hometown of Montabaur as a “normal guy” and “nice young man”.

“He was a completely normal guy,” Klaus Radke said, the head of the local flight club where Lubitz received his first flying licence years ago.

He had returned in the fall for a refresher course with Mr Radke.

“I got to know him, or I should say reacquainted with him, as a very nice, fun and polite young man,” Mr Radke added.

Lubitz had no known association with terrorist groups, said German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere.

He appeared to have led an active lifestyle, running a half-marathon in a good time and showing an interest in pop music and night-clubs, according to his Facebook page, which also featured a photo of Lubitz by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

“I’m just speechless. I don’t have any explanation for this. Knowing Andreas, this is just inconceivable for me,” Peter Ruecker said, a long-time member of the flight club who knew Lubitz well.

“Andreas was a very nice young man who got his training here and was a member of the club,” Mr Ruecker said.

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

“He was just a normal young person, actively engaged in life and not really unusual in any way.”

‘He was always polite and friendly’

Lubitz lived with his parents in Montabaur while keeping a flat in Duesseldorf, a Germanwings hub and the city for which the doomed flight from Barcelona was bound, Montabaur mayor Gabriele Wieland told DPA news agency.

Neighbours in the small town of 12,500 people said Lubitz had a girlfriend and the couple liked to jog together. He also had a young brother who did not live with him.

On his quiet, neatly-swept residential street, acquaintances of Lubitz said they were stunned by the news.

“I cannot believe it and don’t want to believe it. I am absolutely shocked,” Johannes Rossbach, 23, said.

“I only saw him occasionally but he was always polite and friendly and was quite physically fit. He went jogging a lot,” he said.

“I don’t know if he was depressed or sick but I never heard anyone talking about him or his family having any particular problems.”

Neighbour Hans-Juergen Krause said he was “really shocked” by the news.

PHOTO: Lubitz appeared to have led an active lifestyle, enjoyed travelling and pop music. (Facebook)

‘He had a lot of friends, he was not a loner’

Germanwings has so far given only sketchy biographical details of the co-pilot, who had only 630 hours of flying time to his name, unlike the captain who had flown for more than 6,000 hours and had worked for Lufthansa for 10 years.

Lubitz was trained at the Lufthansa pilot training academy in Bremen, which declined to talk about him.

His local flight club carried a black ribbon on its website with the flight number and the name “Andreas”.

“He had a lot of friends, he wasn’t a loner,” Mr Ruecker said.

“He was integrated in the group. Our club is mostly made up of young people who learn how to fly gliders and then get their licence and then perhaps, like was the case with him, to make the jump into commercial aviation.”

Armin Pleiss, head teacher of the Mons-Tabor-Gymnasium high school where Lubitz graduated in 2007, said: “I am just as shocked and surprised as you are.”

Lubitz attended the school of 1,300 students before Mr Pleiss became the principal.

‘He was 100 per cent airworthy’

Lubitz had worked for Germanwings, a Lufthansa subsidiary, since September 2013 and had 630 hours of flight experience, a Lufthansa spokeswoman said.

The head of Lufthansa, parent company of Germanwings, told a news conference there wasn’t “the slightest indication what might have led” to his actions.

“In our worst nightmares we could not have imagined that this kind of tragedy could happen to us here at the company,” Carsten Spohr said.

According to Mr Spohr, he began training as a pilot in 2008 in Bremen, where he was admitted after undergoing thorough psychological testing.

He took a break from his training “for a few months” before graduating in 2012 and working for Lufthansa as a flight attendant as part of his preparation, the Lufthansa boss added.

Cockpit employees are selected “very, very carefully” with much attention paid to their “psychological suitability”, Mr Spohr, himself a former pilot, assured.

“He was 100 per cent airworthy, without reservation.”