This information came forth after a voice recording was recovered by investigators. As New York Times points out, one of the pilots got locked out of the cockpit.

"The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer. And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer," a senior French military officer involved in the investigation told NYT.

"You can hear he is trying to smash the door down." But the co-pilot didn't open up.

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin insists that the co-pilot "voluntarily" put the aircraft into a dive. He was alive until the moment of impact, because they could hear him breathing in the recording, The Guardian reports.

Source: Debris of the crashed Germanwings passenger jet seen scattered on the mountain side in French Alps. Source: Popsci

"The first 20 minutes of conversation between the pilot and co-pilot was amicable, then the co-pilot took over when the pilot left to make a 'natural call'."

"At this point, the co-pilot accelerated the plane’s descent using the keys of the monitoring system."

Was it suicide?

Brice Robin named the co-pilot as Andreas Lubitz, a 28-year-old German citizen. He was no terrorist. "There is no element that indicates this is a terrorist action."

"I can’t call this a suicide, but it is a legitimate question to ask," he adds.

What about the 150 odd passengers on board who were minutes away from death when the co-pilot pulled this stunt?

Robin confirms that shortly before the plane crashed, he could hear passengers screaming in the recording. "Death was sudden and immediate," he adds, as a pacifier.

"A first officer, Lubitz had been flying for Germanwings since September 2013 after being trained with the airline’s parent company Lufthansa at its facility in Bremen. He had clocked up a total of 630 hours in the air," The Guardian reports.

Why would he kill so many people, then?

Meanwhile, the German Transport Minister has confirmed that the theory of a deliberate crash might not be far removed from reality.

Germanwings' spokesperson said, "I can only repeat what I have said over the last few days. We are really deeply shocked and I wouldn’t have been able to imagine that the situation would have got even worse."

Employees of Germanwings hug each other as they mourn in front of the company's headquarters in Cologne, Germany. Source: ABCnews

The spokesperson also confirms that Germanwings flights have a double level lock on the cockpit door, installed as a safety measure against terror attacks. The door cannot be opened even "by weapons".

The door can only be opened by a code that the crew remembers by heart. However, even if the pilot entered the code from outside, the co-pilot could have easily re-locked the door, delaying the process by another five minutes.

The company has not ruled out the possibility of suicide either. The spokesperson states, "We can only speculate what might have been the motivation of the co-pilot. In a company that prides itself on its safety record, this is a shock. We select cockpit personnel carefully."

While this might be among the most baffling cases in the history of flight tragedies, we cannot fathom the motive of a suicidal co-pilot. Why would he kill 150 others, if he just wanted to kill himself?

We will update this story as it develops. Meanwhile, tell us what you think happened aboard Airbus A320?

Feature image source: Airheadsfly