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Pilots in German plane crash trained in metro Phoenix

PHOENIX — The CEO of the German airline Lufthansa said Thursday the pilots of the Airbus that was purposefully crashed into the Alps had trained in the Phoenix area.

Carsten Spohr of Lufthansa, parent company of Germanwings, said that based on audio recordings, co-pilot Andreas Lubitz intentionally began a manual descent of the plane. All 150 aboard were killed Tuesday.

The Airline Training Center Arizona is based at the Phoenix Goodyear airport. Lufthansa pilots have trained at the facility since the 1970s.

Military and other airlines also train at the flight school.

Spohr said, “we choose our staff very, very carefully” but that while pilots have to have annual medical checkups, they weren’t subject to mental health testing.

Marseille, France prosecutor Brice Robin said the pilot left the cockpit, and then couldn’t get back inside.

Lubitz began flying for Germanwings in September 2013 and had logged 630 hours of flight time by the day of the crash, the airline said.

Earlier this week, a Facebook page that belonged to Lubitz listed Phoenix Goodyear Airport among his interests. The page has since been deleted.

Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maziziere said there were no indications that Lubitz had a “terrorist background.”

Peter Ruecker, who belongs to a flight club in Lubitz’s hometown of Montabaur, Germany, said, “He was happy he had the job with Germanwings and he was doing well.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.