A recording extracted from one of the “black box” recorders recovered from the debris of Germanwings flight 4U9525 suggests the co-pilot took control of the plane and flew the it into the mountain intentionally, French officials have said.
Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said that the co-pilot was alone in the cockpit and started the descent on purpose while the pilot was locked out of the cockpit.
Robin said that on the audio extracted from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), the pilot could be heard banging on the cockpit door and pleading with the co-pilot, named as Andreas Lubitz, 28, to let him back in.
He told reporters:
“We hear the pilot ask the co-pilot to take control of the plane and we hear at the same time the sound of a seat moving backwards and the sound of a door closing.
“At that moment, the co-pilot is controlling the plane by himself. While he is alone, the co-pilot presses the buttons of the flight monitoring system to put into action the descent of the aeroplane.
“This action on the altitude controls can only be deliberate.”
The prosecutor concluded:
“The most plausible interpretation is that the co-pilot through a voluntary act had refused to open the cabin door to let the captain in. He pushed the button to trigger the aircraft to lose altitude. He operated this button for a reason we don’t know yet, but it appears that the reason was to destroy this plane.”
There is an emergency procedure aboard passenger jets for members of the crew to regain access to the cockpit even if the door is locked from the inside, but it appears that this procedure failed to work correctly or was not followed during the panic.
Air traffic controllers made repeated attempts to contact the aircraft during its eight-minute descent, but to no avail.
The prosecutors said that Andreas Lubitz was alive and conscious until the moment of impact, but did not have any known links to terrorism.
The Germanwings Airbus 320 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf crashed into a mountain in the French Alps on Tuesday after a rapid eight-minute descent, killing all 150 people on board.