The public prosecutor of Marseille has said it appears that the co-pilot of the Germanwings flight crashed the aircraft deliberately. Brice Robin was speaking at a press conference on Thursday, where he confirmed details which had been leaked on Wednesday to the New York Times.

Robin confirmed that the co-pilot is a German national and was the only person left in the cockpit at the time of the crash. At the press conference, the French prosecutor said the German co-pilot was 28-year-old Andreas Lubitz. No other name has been released. The other pilot left the cockpit for an unknown reason and at this point it is believed the door was locked from the inside.

The New York Times had reported that the pilot outside tried to "smash down the door" when the co-pilot would not open it.

The prosecutor said it was a "voluntary" action to start the command to lose altitude. During the descent, the co-pilot did not speak and did not make any noise to be heard from the outside, as the pilot tried to regain entry to the cockpit. Screams were heard just moments before the plane crashed. He added that so far it is considered "involuntary homicide" however that could change as the investigation continues.

Asked whether it could have been a terrorist attack, Brice said that the co-pilot "was not known as a wanted terrorist." He also refused to say it was suicide given the nature of the incident and that there were many other innocent people on board.

The Germanwings flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf crashed on Tuesday morning in the French Alps. The flight had 144 passengers and 6 crew members on board. There were no mayday call or distress call made from the plane as it descended. The information released on Thursday comes from the black boxes, which were damaged when the plane smashed into the mountains.

A recovery operation is continuing in the Alps to recover the bodies of the 150 people on board the doomed flight. Among those on board were two babies and 16 German students who were on an exchange trip from Spain.