German newspaper releases timeline of Germanwings flight before crash

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(CNN) – The sounds recorded on one of the “black boxes” recovered from downed Germanwings Flight 9525 firms up investigators’ theory that the co-pilot locked the captain out of the cockpit and then crashed the plane.

“For God’s sake, open the door!” Capt. Patrick Sondenheimer screamed as he banged on the cockpit door, pleading with the co-pilot.

Thirteen minutes later, the plane slammed into the French Alps.

The audio from the plane’s cockpit voice recorder has not been released, but the German newspaper Bild published what it claims is a summary of the transcript from the recording.

CNN translated Bild’s report — which the newspaper says is based on the 1.5 hours of audio that was on the cockpit voice recorder — but cannot independently verify the information.

Before takeoff, Sondenheimer tells co-pilot Andreas Lubitz that he didn’t manage to go to the bathroom in Barcelona, Spain, according to Bild. Lubitz tells him he can go any time.

Lubitz is believed to have locked the pilot of Flight 9525 out of the cockpit before putting the plane on a rapid descent into the mountains, French authorities have said.

The flight took off 20 minutes late. After reaching cruising altitude, Sondenheimer asked Lubitz to prepare the landing.

Once that’s finished, Lubitz tells the captain he “can go anytime.”

There is the sound of a seat being pushed backward after which the captain says, “You can take over.”

At 10:29 a.m., air traffic radar detects that the plane is starting to descend.

Three minutes later, air traffic controllers try to contact the plane and receive no answer — shortly after which an alarm goes off in the cockpit, warning of the “sink rate,” Bild reported.

Next comes the banging.

Sondenheimer begs Lubitz to let him in. Passengers then begin to scream, according to the transcript obtained by Bild.

Another three minutes pass. A loud metallic bang is heard at 7,000 meters (almost 23,000 feet).

A minute and half later and 2,000 meters (about 6,500 feet) lower to the ground, an alarm says “Terrain — pull up!”

“Open the damn door!” the pilot says.

It’s 10:38, and the plane is at 4,000 meters (about 13,000 feet). Lubitz’s breathing can still be heard on the voice recorder, according to Bild’s report.

Two minutes later, investigators think they hear the plane’s right wing scrape a mountaintop.

Screams can be heard one final time.

‘Unbelievable’ leak
CNN’s Richard Quest called it “unbelievable” that the black box audio would be leaked in this manner.

Cockpit recordings are some of the most sensitive and closely held parts of aviation crash investigations. They’re never officially released, according to Quest.

Communications between air traffic control and a plane’s cockpit can be downloaded privately, but that’s less common in Europe than it is in the United States.

An edited and redacted version of the transcript is usually published in part of a final report on an incident.

Anxiety, burnout and depression
Lubitz suffered from “generalized anxiety disorder,” and from severe depression in the past, Le Parisien newspaper reported Sunday, citing sources close to the investigation. In 2010, Lubitz received injections of antipsychotic medication, the paper reported.

He was also prescribed a medication that influences neurotransmitters, but it’s unclear when that happened, Le Parisien said.

Investigators found a handful of pills in his apartment in addition to two sick notes, which forbade him from working from March 16 to March 29, according to the paper.

News reports also stated that antidepressants were found in Lubitz’s apartment this week.

Die Welt, a German newspaper, cited an unidentified senior investigator who said that Lubitz suffered from a severe “psychosomatic illness” and that German police seized prescription drugs that treat the condition. Lubitz suffered from a “severe subjective burnout syndrome” and from severe depression, the source told Die Welt.

The New York Times also reported that antidepressants were found during the search of his apartment. CNN has not been able to confirm the reports.

French authorities have said that Lubitz appeared to have crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 deliberately into the Alps on Tuesday as it flew from Barcelona toward Dusseldorf, Germany, with 150 people on board.

‘Unfit to work’
Investigators are expected to question his relatives, friends and co-workers as they try to pin down what could have prompted the seemingly competent and stable co-pilot to steer a jetliner full of people into a mountainside.

Lubitz had been declared “unfit to work” by a doctor, German investigators said.

As their efforts continued, dozens of people attended a remembrance ceremony Saturday for the victims of the crash at a church in a nearby town, Digne-les-Bains, France. Most of the people on the plane were from Germany and Spain.

Relatives of the victims and local residents also gathered Saturday afternoon by a simple stone memorial set up near the crash site, in the village of Le Vernet. Flowers have been laid there, in the shadow of the snow-covered peaks of the French Alps.

The mayor of one local community said he had seen Lubitz’s father on Thursday evening, describing him as “a man in deep distress.”

“We get the impression that that man is bearing the whole weight of the disaster on his shoulders,” Bernard Bartolini, the mayor of Prads-Haute-Bleone, said Saturday.

“I can tell that this is a man whose life is totally broken,” Bartolini said. “He had so much emotion in him.”

Mental health speculation
Much attention has focused on Lubitz’s state of mind, with suggestions that he may have had mental health issues.

Investigators found a letter in the waste bin of his Dusseldorf apartment saying that Lubitz, 27, wasn’t fit to do his job, city prosecutor Christoph Kumpa said Friday. The note, Kumpa said, had been “slashed.”

Just what was ailing Lubitz hasn’t been revealed. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported Friday that Lubitz suffered from mental illness and kept his diagnosis concealed from his employer.

A subsequent New York Times report on Saturday, citing two officials with knowledge of the investigation, said Lubitz sought treatment before the crash for vision problems that might have put his career at risk.

According to those unnamed officials, Lubitz also was being treated for psychological issues. Other media reports indicate he was treated for depression.

Lubitz had a girlfriend, a teacher at a school in Dusseldorf not far from his apartment, according to German media.

Ripped up medical notes
Lubitz passed his annual pilot recertification medical examination in summer 2014, a German aviation source told CNN.

An official with Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, said that the exam only tests physical health, not psychological health, and that if Lubitz had vision problems, it would have been discovered during the tests.

The official also said that the company was never given any indication Lubitz was depressed, and that if he went to a doctor on his own, he would have been required to self-report if deemed unfit to fly.

A Dusseldorf clinic said he’d gone there twice, most recently on March 10, “concerning a diagnosis.” But the University Clinic said it had not treated Lubitz for depression.

German investigators said they still have interviews and other work to do before they can reveal what they gleaned from the records found in the apartment and at his parents’ home in the town of Montabaur.

But the fact that investigators found “ripped, recent medical leave notes, including for the day of the offense, leads to the preliminary conclusion that the deceased kept his illness secret from his employer and his professional environment,” prosecutors said.

Germanwings corroborated that assertion, saying it had never received a sick note from Lubitz.

No scenario ruled out
Jean Pierre Michel, lead investigator for the French inquiry, said on Saturday that he could not yet address reports of Lubitz’s possible mental illness.

But Michel also said investigators weren’t ruling any scenario out at this point.

Although search teams have recovered the cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder remains missing. That device could reveal crucial details about what happened during the final moments of the flight.

The French Defense Ministry said in a statement that it sent a fighter jet and a helicopter to the area of the crash site after losing radio contact with the airliner.

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