26 Mar 2015

Germanwings crash: pilot ‘locked out of Airbus cockpit’

One of the pilots of the Germanwings plane that crashed in the French Alps killing all 150 people on board was locked out of the cockpit, according to a report.

Watch live: special #c4news at 1pm on the claims co-pilot Andreas Lubitz ‘deliberately crashed’ Germanwings Airbus into the Alps.

The recordings did not make clear why the pilot left the cockpit or why he could not regain entry as the plane steadily descended towards a mountain range in a remote area of the French Alpine region on Tuesday.

Investigators were studying the voice recordings from one of the “black boxes” for answers on Thursday while the search continued for a second black box.

Read more: Germanwings crash updates - what we know so far

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” an unnamed investigator told the New York Times, citing the recordings. “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 investigator added.

The New York Times quoted a senior military official involved in the investigation, saying: “We don’t know yet the reason why one of the guys went out.

“But what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door.”

‘We will not take part in speculation’

A spokesman for Lufthansa, whose budget arm Germanwings operated the flight, said the carrier was aware of the reports, adding: “We have no information from the authorities that confirms this report and we are seeking more information. We will not take part in speculation on the causes of the crash.”

The reports come as relatives of the 150 passengers and crew who died are to visit the site.

France’s BEA air incident investigation bureau was not immediately available for comment on the report but earlier had said it was too early to draw meaningful conclusions on why the plane went down.

We have not yet been able to study and to establish an exact timing for all the sound. Remi Jouty

“We have just been able to extract a useable audio data file,” BEA director Remi Jouty told a news conference at the agency’s headquarters outside Paris.

“We have not yet been able to study and to establish an exact timing for all the sounds and words heard on this file.”

The Germanwings flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf came down in a remote area of the French Alps on Tuesday morning. Within hours of the crash, the French authorities said they did not expect to find any survivors.

French civil aviation said it reached a cruising height of 38,000 feet. At 10.30am they lost radio contact with the plane and it began to descend.

The plane was carrying 144 passengers and six crew. Two babies are known to be among the dead.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the Foreign Office was aware of three British victims but added: “We cannot rule out the possibility that there are further British people involved.”