The flight data recorder from last month’s Germanwings jet crash in the French Alps has been found, French authorities said Thursday. The device is expected to provide crucial evidence about what happened in the final moments before Flight 9525 crashed. Investigators believe the plane was intentionally brought down by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz.
Separately, German prosecutors said Lubitz appeared to have researched suicide methods in the days before the plane crash that killed 150 people.
German prosecutors in Duesseldorf, the flight's intended destination, said investigators found a tablet computer at Lubitz's apartment that also showed searches on cockpit doors and related safety precautions.
Last week French prosecutors said they believed Lubitz appeared to want to “destroy the plane” and locked the captain out of the cockpit before steering the Airbus A320 into its fatal descent.
Prosecutors' spokesman Ralf Herrenbrueck said in a statement issued Thursday that search terms on Lubitz’s computer included medical treatment and suicide methods. On at least one day the co-pilot looked at search terms involving cockpit doors and security measures related to them, Herrenbrueck said.
Meanwhile, authorities are hoping the technical data recovered in the device found Thursday can provide vital insights.
The cockpit voice recorder, found the same day as the crash, recorded conversations between Lubitz and the pilot and showed that Lubitz was alone in the cockpit at the time of the crash.
The plane smashed into the mountains at 430 miles an hour, instantly killing all 150 people on board — half of them German and more than 50 from Spain.
According to prosecutors, the voice recorder suggested that the passengers were unaware of what was going to happen to them until the very last seconds, when screams were heard.
Rescue workers have since been sifting through the wreckage trying to identify body parts and victims using their DNA. The search for evidence has been hampered by the extremely difficult mountain terrain.
Al Jazeera and wire services