Albert Gea/Reuters

On Wednesday, French authorities released the initial findings of an investigation on the Germanwings flight that crashed in March, killing all 150 people on board. The report adds new and alarming details about Andreas Lubitz, the plane's co-pilot, whom investigators suspect deliberately crashed the aircraft.

What the Investigation Concluded

The 29-page report was compiled from data and audio taken from the black box recordings, which showed the extent to which the plane's pilot as well as those on the ground sought to reach Lubitz as the plane began its descent. "As the jet steadily lost height," Reuters noted, "Marseille air traffic controllers tried 11 times to contact the Germanwings jet."

The report also noted that during the nine-month interruption in Lubitz's pilot Lufthansa training, "flight doctors twice refused to certify Mr. Lubitz as fit to fly, citing his depression and the medicine he had been prescribed to treat it."

But perhaps the most chilling aspect of the report is the chronicle of the hours prior the crash when Lubitz apparently practiced adjusting the plane's altitude to 100 feet before quickly changing them back. These maneuvers, which some have characterized as "dry runs," were said to have taken place when Lubitz was alone in the cockpit on an earlier flight.

"Several altitude selections towards 100 ft were recorded during descent on the flight that preceded the accident flight, while the co-pilot was alone in the cockpit," the report noted.

How the Findings Change the Narrative

While Wednesday's report did not contain any subjective analysis of Lubitz's intentions, their findings complicate an already macabre narrative of the doomed flight.

As the audio recordings gave initially rise to the theory that Lubitz might have intentionally crashed the Germanwings flight, Wednesday's report buttresses a theory that the crashing of the plane was not a sudden act of despair, but rather part of a premeditated plan. The report indicates that on the fatal flight, Lubitz not only caused the plane to drop, he also sped it up.

"I can't speculate on what was happening inside his head," the director of the accident investigation agency told Reuters. "All I can say is that he changed this button to the minimum setting of 100 feet and he did it several times."  

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to