The co-pilot of a plane which crashed in the Alps activated the descent button and refused to open the cockpit door to the pilot.
Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin says the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, 28, was alone at the controls of the Germanwings flight and “intentionally” sent the plane into the doomed descent reports Sky News.
He said that the crew member – who won a Federal Aviation Authority award in 2013 – wanted to “destroy the plane”.
He said: “We assume the (captain) went to the loo or something. The co-pilot is on his own in charge of the plane, and it is while he is alone that he uses the flight monitoring system which starts the descent of the plane.”
The flight monitoring system cannot be accidentally triggered, he added.
“We hear several cries from the captain asking to get in. Through the intercom system he identifies himself – but there is no answer. He knocks on the door and asks for it to be opened – but there is no answer.”
The plane ploughed into the side of a mountain at around 430mph, killing all of those on board instantly.
“I think the victims only realised at the last moment because on the recording you only hear the screams literally on the last moments of the recording.”
Mr Robin said Mr Lubitz was a German national but does not know his ethnicity or religion.
He said there is nothing to indicate that this was a terrorism-related event. He said he would not speculate on whether the co-pilot had committed suicide.
He said the families are in a “state of shock” and “can’t believe what has happened”.