French President François Hollande said the contents of a second black box found on Wednesday were missing as investigators managed to extract audio recordings from the first flight recorder recovered from Germanwings flight 4U9525.
French investigators say they have succeeded in extracting “usable data”, including sound and voices, from the first black box recovered from the Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps.
After revelations emerged that one of the pilots was locked out of the cockpit as Germanwings flight 4U9525 crashed and killed 150 on board, speculation has swirled as to what exactly happened in the moments before the disaster.
A senior military official involved in the investigation has told the New York Times that the audio from the “black box” flight recorder reveals that one of the pilots left his seat and then exited the cockpit.
He can then be heard knocking lightly on the door in an attempt to get back in. Soon after, he can reportedly be heard trying to break the door down.
No conversation is heard. Minutes later the plane hit a mountain in the French Alps, killing all 150 on board.
It remains unknown which pilot was in the cockpit and which was locked out.
The information remains unconfirmed by authorities.
The co-pilot had been on the job since September 2013 and had 630 hours of flying experience. He “was First Officer at Germanwings since September 2013,” a Lufthansa spokeswoman told AFP.
By comparison the plane’s pilot had more than ten years experience and 6,000 hours of experience flying the Airbus A320 model.
Neither of the pilots have been named.
French aviation safety expert Christophe Naudin told The Local that it remains unclear whether someone else may have gained entry to the cockpit.
“We don’t know whether the pilot left and was locked out or someone else entered the cockpit and locked him out,” he said.
“What’s troubling is that apparently we don’t hear voices anymore once the door is locked.”
Once the cockpit door is locked it is impossible to gain access, even with the code, explained Naudin.
Reinforced cockpit doors were installed on all planes at the behest of the US in the aftermath of 9/11.
“This case could show that having reinforced doors does not necessarily increase security and safety on airplanes,” Naudin said.
The is the biggest mystery is what happened with pilot inside. No distress signal was sent from the plane and the crew failed to respond to ground control’s desperate attempts to make contact.
Authorities have said the plane was still flying at the moment of the crash, meaning it did not explode mid-air.
Aviation experts have suggested several theories.
“If the pilots did not stop the airplane from flying into the mountains, it is because they were unconscious or dead, or they had decided to die, or they were forced to die,” one expert told the AFP news agency.
Authorities hope to find the second black box to reveal more.
Unlikely. The head of France’s Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA) crash investigation agency, Remi Jouty, told reporters he still had “not the slightest explanation” for the tragedy at this stage.
“It is inexplicable. The plane was in perfect condition and the two pilots were experienced,” Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr said in Frankfurt.
Weather did not appear to be a factor in the crash, with conditions calm at the time, and Germanwings had an unblemished safety record.