PARIS (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Times on Wednesday issued a bombshell report about the crash of a Germanwings plane in the French Alps.
As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, the New York Times story by reporters Nicola Clark and Dan Bilefsky indicated that a cockpit voice recorder indicated that one of the pilots had left the cockpit before the plane began descending, and could not get back in.
The Germanwings A320 lost radio contact with air traffic controllers over the southern French Alps during a seemingly routine flight Tuesday from Barcelona, Spain, to Düsseldorf, Germany, before crashing, killing all 150 on board.
A senior military official involved in the investigation described the conversation between the pilots on the flight as “very smooth,” the Times reported.
But later, the official said, the pilot who got stuck outside the cockpit was heard first knocking lightly on the door, then hitting harder, but there is never an answer, the newspaper reported. The pilot sounds like he is trying to “smash the door down,” the official said in the Times report.
The official said it was not clear why the pilot was out of the cockpit in the first place, but it was clear that the other pilot was alone in the cockpit when the flight went down, the newspaper reported.
Retired National Transportation Safety Board investigator Alan Yurman said a pilot could easily get locked out of the cockpit, but it is not normally difficult to get back in.
“Either they have a release overhead, or he reaches back and opens the door,” Yurman said.
Investigators have just started analyzing the voice recordings from one of the plane’s black boxes, Carrasco reported. They say it contains usable sounds and voices, but caution their findings are preliminary.
“We hope to have the first rough ideas in a matter of days,” said crash investigator Remi Jouty.
Authorities said they do not know why the plane lost altitude and slammed into the French Alps, shredding into pieces.
French President François Hollande said the casing of the plane’s second black box has been found, but not the flight data recorder itself.
Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, made a joint appearance near the crash site – which is only accessible by air – to thank first responders and express their condolences to the families of the 150 victims.
Three of the victims are Americans – including Yvonne Selke, a U.S. contractor from Nokesville, Virginia; and her daughter, Emily Selke, a 2013 graduate of Drexel University.
The Selke family said in a statement, “Our entire family is saddened by the losses of Yvonne and Emily Selke – two wonderful, amazing people who meant so much to so many.”
Most passengers were from Spain and Germany, including 16 students and two teachers from the same high school in the small German town of Haltern.
Late Wednesday night Eastern time, French and German officials said it is unlikely that terrorism or foul play were behind the crash.
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