Andreas Guenter Lubitz, the co-pilot believed to have deliberately flown the Germanwings plane into the Alps, was a trusted flight officer whom aviation authorities considered a “positive example”.
Described by acquaintances as quiet but friendly, the 28-year-old began to dream of flying as a youth in his home town of Montabaur, in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of western Germany,
There he had joined the LSC Westerwald flying club and obtained his glider pilot’s licence as a teenager before being training as a Lufthansa pilot in Bremen.
Mr Lubitz was employed as a flight attendant when he first tried to become a pilot in 2008 after waiting for eight months, but did not start working as a first officer for Lufthansa until September 2013.
The German carrier’s chief executive, Carsten Spohr, said: “The co-pilot interrupted his training for six years, I would be interested to know why.
“I cannot tell you anything about the reasons of this interruption, but anybody who interrupts the training has to do a lot of tests so the competence and fitness would be checked again.”
A Lufthansa spokesman told German newspaper Bild: “Andreas L has been employed at the airline since September 2013.
“He had 630 hours of flying experience and prior to that worked at Lufthansa’s flight training school.”
In September 2013 it was announced that Lubitz had been included in the Federal Aviation Administration’s prestigious FAA Airmen Certification Database.
Certified pilots included on the American aviation authority’s database “have met or exceeded the high educational, licensing and medical standards established by the FAA”.
Announcing the certificate, Aviation Business Gazette wrote: “FAA pilot certification can be the difference between a safe flight and one that ends in tragedy.”
Neighbours who had seen Mr Lubitz grow up in Montabaur said he had showed no signs of depression when they saw him last autumn.
One told the German newspaper Rhein-Zeitung: “His big dream was to become a pilot. He pursued and achieved this goal with vigour.”
The co-pilot was friendly, the neighbour told the newspaper.
She added: “We often saw him go jogging past the house.”
Paying tribute to him before the terrible news of his involvement broke, the LSC Westerwald flying club said: “Andreas died as an officer in action on the tragic flight.
“As a youth Andreas was a member of the club who had always dreamed of being a pilot. He began as a gliding plane student and succeeded in becoming pilot of an Airbus A320.
“He fulfilled his dream, a dream for which he has paid dearly with his life.”
Asked if Mr Lubitz had a terrorist background, a German interior ministry spokesman told Bild: “According to our current information he has no such background.”