Investigators trying to determine what caused the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 have made a startling discovery in an audio recording, according to a New York Times report: One of the plane’s pilots was locked out of the cockpit before the crash.
“You can hear he is trying to smash the door down,” a senior military official involved in the investigation told the newspaper, describing audio from the cockpit voice recorder, one of the plane’s black boxes.
“We don’t know yet the reason why one of the guys went out,” the official said, according to the Times’ report. “But what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door.”
Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, said it was looking into the report.
“We have no information from the bodies investigating the incident that would corroborate the report in the New York Times,” spokesman Boris Ogursky said. “We will not participate in speculation, but we will follow up on the matter.”
The Times’ report is a “terribly shocking revelation,” CNN aviation analyst Peter Goelz said. But he and other experts cautioned that it’s still unclear what could have been going on inside the cockpit.
Possibilities range from a medical emergency to something more nefarious, like a suicide mission, CNN aviation analysts said.
Officials previously said that hadn’t ruled out terrorism, but it seems unlikely.
French authorities revealed earlier Wednesday that they’d been able to access audio from the recorder, even though its external casing was damaged.
But they disclosed few details about what the recording actually contained, saying only that there was one audio channel with voices on it that went all the way up to the time of the crash.
“It is too early to draw conclusions to what happened,” said Remi Jouty, head of the BEA, the French aviation investigative arm leading the probe. “There is going to be detailed work performed on that audio file to understand and interpret the sounds and the voices that can be heard.”
Finding the plane’s second black box will also be critical to understanding the mystery of what went on inside the jet.
That box, the flight data recorder, hasn’t been found yet, but Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said Wednesday that there’s a high probability it will be.