Crash Recording: Pilot Missed the Chance to Use Bathroom Before Takeoff
According to a new timeline and transcript released by the German newspaper Bild, Germanwings Flight 9525 pilot Andreas Lubitz encouraged his co-pilot to use the bathroom just moments before he intentionally crashed the plane into the French Alps last week.
Investigators believe Lubitz—who reportedly suffered from vision issues he believed would someday preclude him from flying—locked Capt. Patrick Sondenheimer out of the cockpit before crashing the flight. Sondenheimer can reportedly be heard on the recording trying unsuccessfully to smash through the door with an ax.
It's still unclear how pre-meditated the crash was, but the transcript suggests it could have been a spur-of-the-moment decision: according to the report, Sondenheimer missed a chance for a bathroom break in Barcelona and only left the cockpit after he was encouraged to go by Lubitz.
The timeline, translated here, via CNN:
- There are 1.5 hours of sound on the voice recorder.
- The flight took off 20 minutes late, and Capt. Patrick Sondenheimer apologizes for the delay and says they will try and make up for it in the air.
- Even before takeoff, the captain tells co-pilot Andreas Lubitz that he didn't manage to go to the bathroom in Barcelona. Lubitz tells him he can go anytime.
- The plane reaches its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet at 10:27 a.m. local time.
- The captain asks the co-pilot to prepare the landing.
- After the check, Lubitz repeats to the captain, "You can go now." There is the sound of a seat moving backward. After that, the captain is heard saying, "You can take over."
- At 10:29 a.m., air traffic radar detects that the plane is beginning to descend.
- At 10:32 a.m., air traffic controllers contact the plane and receive no answer. Almost at the same time, an alarm goes off in the cockpit saying "sink rate."
- Shortly after there is a loud bang on the door. The pilot can be heard screaming, "For God's sake, open the door!" Passengers can be heard screaming in the background.
- At 10:35 a.m., loud metallic bangs can be heard as though someone is trying to knock down the door. The plane is at about 23,000 feet.
- Ninety seconds later, another alarm goes off: "Terrain — pull up!" The plane is at about 16,400 feet. The captain is heard screaming, "Open the damn door!"
- At 10:38 a.m., the plane is descending toward the French Alps, and the co-pilot can be heard breathing. The plane is at about 13,100 feet.
- At 10:40 a.m., it sounds like the plane's right wing scrapes a mountaintop, then screams can be heard one more time. Those are the last sounds on the voice recorder.
A spokesperson for the BEA—France's accident investigation bureau—said the agency is dismayed by the publication of the report, calling it "mere voyeurism."
[image via AP]