But a Facebook group entitled Andreas Lubitz A320 wir sind gegen die Hetzjagd (Andreas Lubitz A320 we are against the witch hunt) is providing a platform for other threads of dubious speculation.
Prosecutors say Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed Germanwings flight A320 last week
Among those theories is the completely unfounded allegation Germanwings parent company Lufthansa manipulated the audio retrieved from the black box recorder to hide mechanical problems, making Lubitz, as Vocativ puts it, “the fall guy”.
Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin told a press conference the audio revealed the captain shouting to be allowed back into the cockpit, during which no words are uttered by Lubitz, who could simply be heard breathing "normally".
Vocativ adds: "Other commenters noted that only one of the two black boxes on the plane has been recovered, which they say is suspicious and is further evidence of a Lufthansa cover-up."
The Facebook group, which at time of publication had nearly 5,000 ‘likes’, also points the finger of blame at the media, stating: “We don’t believe the lying press, they are looking for a scapegoat to cover up the technical problems.”
One post said: "The lies of Germanwings - there were manipulations and an emergency call!" [There have been conflicting reports as to whether anyone on board made a distress call, with the French civil aviation authority claiming an emergency message was sent from air traffic controllers and not the plane.]
Another reads: "This is probably the reason you wont find the black box! It records all data and movements of the aircraft. It stores everything, every button is pressed in the cockpit or cabin, even the flush and the water flow of the toiler is stored.
"It's just ridiculous that they claim not to have found the black box. The black box has GPS - transmitter and an identifier for the location!"
Germanwings said a day after the crash that maintenance work on a flap covering the landing gear had been carried out on the plane but that it was a noise issue, there were no safety issues and the plane was cleared to fly 24 hours before taking off.
Several flights were cancelled in the wake of the crash after a number of crew members refused to fly, thought safety concerns were not cited as a factor.
Emergency crews are at the scene to retrieve bodies and personal belongings
Another motion on the Facebook page posits that the crash was the result of a failed “liquid lasers” manoeuvre by the US armed forces.
It states: "The American Northern Fleet was experimenting with liquid lasers, the 'High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System'. But instead of an intercontinental test rocket, it accidentally hit the Germanwings plane."
Further posters have suggested quotes from Lubitz’s ex-girlfriend stating he hoped to “do something” for the world to remember him by planted in an attempt to “smear” him, with one commenter remarking: “I’d be interested in how much money she was offered.”
One post says: "I have big problems, what with the confetti and what the media are telling us. We have had many spectacular aviation accidents in the past, where were the leaders and the media hype then?"
The Washington Post cites a Boeing study that analysed five decades of air disasters and found that for every million takeoffs, the A320 fleet has about 0.14 fatal accidents.
“In terms of accident rates, it’s one of the safest jets built,” aviation expert Richard Aboulafia told the newspaper.
He added: “There are no reasons to question its record.”
The crash is the first recorded accident involving passenger deaths since the carrier was founded in 2002.
Germany's Spiegel magazine has reported an incident from 2010, when two pilots nearly passed out as they landed in Cologne. The magazine said contaminated cabin air was suspected.
MORE ON GERMANWINGS:
- Harrowing Details Emerge As Police Recover Human Remains From Germanwings Crash Site
- Questions Over How Much Germanwings Knew About Andreas Lubitz's Health
- Andreas Lubitz 'Depression' Headlines Slammed By Mental Health Charities As 'Simplistic'
- Co-Pilot 'Hid Illness From His Employer' And Tore Up Sick Notes
- EasyJet Among Airlines Changing Cockpit Rules After Fatal Germanwings Crash
Lufthansa has not recorded a passenger fatality since 1993, when another Airbus A320 overshot a runway in Warsaw, Poland, killing one crew and one of 64 passengers.
German media have widely reported an incident on 5 November in which a Lufthansa A321-200 flying from Bilbao, Spain, to Munich, Germany, went into a sudden dive shortly after reaching cruising altitude. The dive was believed connected to faulty data from frozen flight data sensors. The crew was able to switch off a flight computer and regain control.
Germanwings, which has a fleet of around 78 aircraft flying to 130 destinations, plays a key role in Lufthansa's effort to compete against low-cost carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair.
It has also been reported investigators have found documentation that Lubtiz was meant to be signed off work on the day of the crash, and that the 27-year-old hid evidence of his illness from his employers.