There are more questions than answers right now regarding a German passenger plane crash in southern France that killed 150 people.
A senior military official involved in investigation, citing evidence from a cockpit voice recorder, told The New York Times that one the pilots was locked out of the cockpit and could not get back in before the plane smashed into the alps on Tuesday.
“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” the investigator told the Times. “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.”
The plane dropped from 38,000 feet to under 6,000 feet in about 8 minutes.
“Contact between the aeroplane and French radar and French flight controllers was lost at 10:53 a.m. at an altitude of about 6,000 feet. The plane then crashed,” Lufthansa unit Germanwings’ managing director, Thomas Winkelmann, said on Tuesday.
Segolene Royal, a top government minister whose portfolio includes transport, said on Tuesday that what happened in between 10:30 a.m. and 10:31 a.m. is key because air traffic controllers were unable to make contact with the plane during that two minutes.
During the rescue effort, investigators found one of two black boxes, and were reportedly analysing the contents.
The black box voice recorder records audio from four microphones in the cockpit as well as recording all the conversations between the pilots and air traffic controllers.
The senior military official — the Times does specify which country the person is from — noted the conversations between pilots were “very smooth, very cool” during the early portion of the Barcelona-to-Düsseldorf flight.
One of the pilots of the plane had 10 years of experience of flying for Lufthansa, German officials said at a press conference on Tuesday. Officials said the plane had been last checked by technicians on Monday.
Overall, the Airbus A320 has a solid safety record, with only 23 fatal crashes in its service lift — not including Tuesday’s incident — according to Aviation Safety Net.
Weather conditions were reportedly good at the time of the crash.
“We don’t know yet the reason why one of the guys went out,” the senior military official told the 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.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.