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Riddle of pilot knocking on cockpit door

Updated: 2015-03-29 13:21
By Agencies (China Daily Europe)

Safety agency looks at data recorder from aircraft debris after crash

Lufthansa sent its first plane with relatives and friends of the Germanwings air crash victims from Duesseldorf to southern France on March 26, and investigators retrieved cockpit voice recordings from one of the flight data recorders, German media reported.

Lufthansa is the parent company of Germanwings, whose A320 flight crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 on board, on March 24. Seventy of the dead were Germans, and Spanish officials said 51 were Spaniards.

 Riddle of pilot knocking on cockpit door

French investigators sift through wreckage on March 25 for clues into why an Airbus A320 operated by Lufthansa's Germanwings budget airline plowed into an Alpine mountainside. Reuters

The bereaved were to be given accommodation in Marseilles, near the crash site, the German newspaper Die Welt said.

Search and recovery work on the mountain was progressing very slowly, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported, and by Thursday morning local time only one body had been recovered. DNA checks to identify remains could take weeks, the French government said.

Remi Jouty, director of the French Bureau of Inquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety, speaking of flight data information, said at a news conference at its headquarters outside Paris: "We have been able to extract a useable audio data file. We have not yet been able to study and to establish an exact timing for all the sounds and words heard on this file."

One of the pilots on the Airbus left the cockpit and was unable to return before it went down, The New York Times reported, citing evidence from a cockpit voice recorder.

"The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer," the newspaper quoted an unnamed investigator as saying. "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."

President Francois Hollande of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy traveled to the crash site to pay tribute to the victims.

Hollande promised that authorities would not rest until the causes of the crash were known.

The French Bureau of Inquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety said it expected initial analysis in "a matter of days" but that a rough read-out could be subject to errors and that more work would be needed for a full interpretation.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve earlier said a terrorist attack was not the main hypothesis being worked on, but no theory could be excluded, he said.

He ruled out a mid-air explosion having taken place and said the crash scenario did not appear to be linked to depressurization.

Jouty said the second flight data recorder had yet to be found. The airliner had flown in a straight line directly into the mountain, he said.

It was the first major air passenger disaster on French soil since the supersonic airliner the Concorde crashed as it was taking off from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on July 25, 2000.

Germanwings said it cancelled one flight on March 25 and was using 11 aircraft from other airlines for about 40 flights after some of its crewmembers had refused to fly.

Employees laid candles and flowers near the headquarters of Germanwings at Cologne/Bonn airport, and Lufthansa and Germanwings staff worldwide held a moment of silence at 10:53 am local time, the moment the aircraft went missing.

Among the victims were two babies, 16 teenagers and two teachers from the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium high school in the town of Haltern am See in northwestern Germany. They were on their way home after an exchange visit near Barcelona.

Associated Press-Reuters

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