PLANE CRASH IN ALPS

One pilot was outside cockpit before accident, ‘New York Times’ reports

Source tells newspaper that recordings show that one of the pilots was unable to enter

Members of the recovery team walk among debris from the Germanwings plane at the crash site.
Members of the recovery team walk among debris from the Germanwings plane at the crash site.Guillaume Horcajuelo / EFE

One of the two pilots of the Germanwings A320 that crashed Tuesday in the French Alps was outside the cockpit at the moment of the accident, and was unable to re-enter, despite banging on the door repeatedly to make himself heard, The New York Times has reported on its website.

The US daily has based its report on a military source connected to the investigation into the crash, which killed 150 people and has so far not been explained.

The French news agency AFP confirmed the information shortly after, citing an anonymous source close to the probe into what happened to flight GWI9525.

The co-pilot was hired in the fall of 2013 and had 630 hours of flight time, according to Lufthansa

According to the information, on the black box recordings the door can be heard to be opened, and then closed. “The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer,” the newspaper reports the investigator saying. “And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer. You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”

It is not known whether the captain or the co-pilot was outside the cockpit. The co-pilot was hired in the fall of 2013 and had 630 hours of flight time, according to Germanwings’ parent company, Lufthansa.

More information

“We have no information that confirms what the New York Times has published,” a Lufthansa spokesperson later told German news agency DPA, adding that it would not speculate as to the causes of the crash. Up until now, the French government had stated that the black box recordings had been recovered, but the content of the recordings had not been revealed. No official source would last night comment on the information published in the New York daily.

The military source told the New York Times that during the first part of the flight between Barcelona and Düsseldorf, there is a “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots. Then the audio indicates that one of the pilots leaves the cabin and can’t get back in.

At the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door”

“We don’t know yet the reason why one of the guys went out,” the official, who requested anonymity due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, told the New York Times. “But what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door.”

Germanwings flight GWI9525 crashed on Tuesday morning in a remote Alpine area in the south of France. A total of 150 people were on board, 144 of whom were passengers. The circumstances of the accident remain a mystery, given that the plane lost altitude at a sharp rate before crashing. In a press conference on Wednesday, Rémi Jouty, who is the head of BEA, the body investigating the crash, said he did not have “any explanation” for what could have happened. The only theory that has been ruled out so far is a mid-air explosion.

The investigators are also yet to give an explanation as to why the crew did not respond to any emergency calls put out by air traffic control during the time the plane was losing altitude. “That's the strangest part,” a number of experts explained, calling the accident “very strange” and “inexplicable.”

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