One of the pilots of Germanwings flight 4U9525 may have been locked outside the cockpit before the plane crashed into the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 people onboard.
Quoting a senior investigator who asked to remain anonymous, The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the audio record of the flight indicates that one of the plane’s two pilots left the cockpit and was unable to return. The pilot knocks on the cockpit door, then knocks harder, but there is never an answer from within the cockpit.
“You can hear he is trying to smash the door down,” the investigator is quoted as saying.
The evidence does not explain why the plane went down nor why the second pilot doesn’t respond to knocks on the door. The plane descended from 38,000 feet over 10 minutes – gradually enough that it does not seem the plane was brought down by any grave mechanical malfunction. However, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Wednesday that terrorism did not seem to be a likely cause.
The plane crashed near the Barcelonnette area of France, and the wreckage was spread out over an area estimated at 4.5 square acres.
Among those killed were 16 high school students and two teachers from Düsseldorf, as well as two Americans: Yvonne Selke of Nokesville, Virginia, and her 23-year-old daughter, Emily Selke.