Germanwings captain yelled, ‘Open the damn door,’ German paper reports – Los Angeles Times

The captain of the Germanwings plane yelled “Open the damn door” at his colleague who had locked him out of the cockpit just moments before the doomed aircraft slammed into a mountain in the French Alps, a German newspaper reported Sunday.

Bild newspaper said it had read the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), the black box, which revealed how Patrick Sondenheimer had desperately tried to get back into the flight deck for eight minutes after his junior colleague, Andreas Lubitz, 27, apparently deliberately put the aircraft into descent.

Bild says passengers can be heard screaming in the background as Sondenheimer shouts: “For God’s sake, open the door!” The captain is then heard trying to smash through the heavily reinforced door while shouting: “Open the damn door!” Moments later the aircraft plowed into a mountain ravine between Digne-les Bains and Barcelonnette in the southern French Alps,  exploding and instantly killing all 150 people aboard — 144 passengers and six crew.

The CVR also recorded Sondenheimer telling Lubitz he was going to the bathroom and that he had not had time to do so before the flight left Barcelona, Spain, for Dusseldorf, Germany.

Germanwings Flight 9525 was just less than halfway along its route when Lubitz appeared to have deliberately set the autopilot to automatic descent, causing it to plow into the mountain on Tuesday.

German investigators discovered torn up sick notes at Lubitz’s home showing that he had been excused from work by his doctor for a period that included the day of the crash.

Lubitz is reported to have been undergoing treatment for depression. German police found medication for psychological conditions and there are suggestions he also had vision problems that would have definitively ended his career and dream of becoming a captain on long-haul flights.

Germanwings and its parent company, Lufthansa, say they never received a sick note from Lubitz, suggesting he hid his illness from the airline. Last week, Lufthansa Chairman Carsten Spohr told journalists Lubitz had passed all technical, physical and psychological tests and was “100% fit” to fly.

Investigators in Germany are trying to piece together a profile of Lubitz to establish what motive he had for downing the aircraft.

His ex-girlfriend, named only as Maria W., 26, a flight attendant, told Bild that Lubitz had said to her: “One day I’m going to do something that will change the whole system, and everyone will know my name and remember it.”

“I never knew what he meant by that, but now it makes sense,” Bild quoted the woman as saying.

She added that at night Lubitz was troubled by nightmares and would wake up screaming, “We’re going down!”

Here is a summary of the flight’s timeline, as published in Bild:

The flight is to take off 20 minutes late, and Sondenheimer apologies for the delay and says the crew will try to make up the time in the air.

Before takeoff, the captain tells Lubitz that he didn’t have time to go to the bathroom before leaving Barcelona. Lubitz tells him he can go anytime.

The plane takes off, and climbs.

10:27 a.m.: The aircraft is at 38,000 feet. The captain asks the co-pilot to prepare the landing. Lubitz replies “hopefully” and “we’ll see.”

After the check, Lubitz repeats to the captain, “You can go now.”

There is the sound of a seat moving backward. The captain says, “You can take over.”

There is the sound of a door clicking.

10:29 a.m.: Air traffic radar detects that the plane is beginning to descend.

10:32 a.m.: Air traffic controllers contact the plane and receive no answer. Around the same time, an alarm in the cockpit sounds: “Sink rate.”

There follows a bang on the door. The pilot can be heard shouting: “For God’s sake, open the door!” Passengers can be heard screaming.

10:35 a.m.: There is the sound of loud metallic banging as if someone is hitting the cockpit door. The plane is now at 23,000 feet.

10:36-10:37 a.m.: An alarm sounds: “Terrain…pull up.” The plane is at 16,400 feet.

The captain is shouting: “Open the damn door!”

10:38 a.m.: The plane is at about 13,100 feet. Lubitz can be heard breathing.

10:40 a.m.: The sound of what is believed to be the plane’s right wing scraping the mountaintop can be heard. Screams of passengers are the last sounds on the recording.

Willsher is a special correspondent


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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times


11:28 a.m.: This article has been updated with timeline from Bild.

This article was originally posted at 5:41 a.m.


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