The French publication Paris Match is in receipt of a cell phone video recorded by one of the passengers on the ill-fated Gemanwings flight, which went down in the French Alps last week. While the paper hasn’t released the video, it has made available a summary by a special investigator of the crash compiled from information on the “Cockpit Voice Recorder,” one of the A320’s two black boxes. That account follows:
The airplane takes off.
The Captain says to Lubitz: “I didn’t have time to use the bathroom before taking off.” Lubitz: “Go whenever you’d like.”
The plane has reached cruising altitude: 38000 feet (11.500 meters)
The captain asks Lubitz to prepare the approach for landing and to verify that the plane can begin the landing process. Lubitz obeys. He repeats to the captain again: “You can go. You can go now.”
Noise can be heard coming from a seat: The captain removes his seatbelt. The door is opened. The captain says to Lubitz: “You are in control now.”
Lubitz answers with a seemingly light tone of voice: “I hope so.”
Lubitz is alone in the cockpit. He locks the armored door with the “Lock” button: it is no longer possible to open the door from the outside. The one can hear the sounds of the automatic pilot being reprogrammed to accelerate the descent, pushing the plane from 38,000 feet (11.000 meters) to 100 feet (30 meters) in a matter of minutes.
The landing begins: the plane drops 3000 feet (900 meters) per minute. Air traffic controllers detect the problem. They try several times to contact the airplane by radio. Lubitz does not respond.
The captain’s voice can be heard as he tries to open the door: “It’s me!” The captain is facing a camera connected to the cockpit: Lubitz sees him on screen but does not react. The captain grabs an oxygen tank or fire extinguisher in order to break down the door.No response from Lubitz. The captain yells: “For the love of God, open this door!”
A first alarm goes off, audible and visual: “SINK RATE, PULL UP.”
No reaction from Lubitz.
Through the cockpit door, the first sounds of passengers running in the aisles can be heard.
The captain asks for the crowbar hidden in the back of the plane. Louder bangs can be heard hitting the door, followed by metallic sounds. The captain tries to bend the door with the crowbar.
10:37 and several seconds
A second alarm is set off, audible and visual: “TERRAIN, PULL UP.” Still no reaction from Lubitz.
The captain yells: “Open this f… door!”
Despite the deafening noises, Lubitz’s breathing can cleary be heard through an oxygen mask he put on. He is breathing normally. The plane is at 13000 feet (4000 meters).
A violent sound can be heard outside. At the same time, inside, screaming. The Airbus hits the mountain with its right wing.
No other sound, save for the alarms and the screaming passengers.
The airplane hits the Estrop mountain range at 5000 feet (1500 meters) at 800 km/h.