Andreas Guenter Lubitz, the co-pilot believed to have "deliberately destroyed" the Germanwings plane in the Alps crash, was a trusted pilot who 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.

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."

Neighbours who had seen 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."