One of the pilots on the Germanwings flight that crashed Tuesday into the French Alps left the cockpit before the airplane’s descent and was unable to reenter, a senior military official told the New York Times.
The official said the cockpit voice recorder showed that the conservations between the pilots were “very smooth, very uneventful” for much of the flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, but then one of the pilots exits the cockpit.
“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” the investigator told the newspaper. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.”
The official, who requested anonymity, continued, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”
The Airbus A320 slammed into the mountains near Nice, killing all 144 passengers and six crew members, including three Americans. The French Bureau of Investigation and Analyses is investigating the accident.
Why the pilot inside the cockpit failed to open the door is unknown, the official said. No mayday or distress signal was sent from the airplane even as it lost altitude in its rapid descent from 38,000 feet into the rocky mountainside.
“We don’t know yet the reason why one of the guys went out,” said the official. “But what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door.”
French rescue teams, including 300 police and 380 firefighters, along with mountain rescue police, resumed the mountainside investigation Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse.