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Germanwings crash: Full transcript of press conference

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin spoke to reporters

Victoria Richards
Thursday 26 March 2015 16:48 GMT
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr, left, and Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann arrive for a press conference near the Germanwings headquarters in Cologne, Germany
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr, left, and Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann arrive for a press conference near the Germanwings headquarters in Cologne, Germany

Here is a transcript of the Lufthansa press conference on March 26, by the company chief executive, Carsten Spohr.

"My ladies and gentlemen after the analysis of the voice recorder of our tragic flight, there has been a new tragic turn.

"We have to, and I think we speak for everyone, we have to accept that a plane was crashed on purpose presumably by the by co-pilot of the plane.

"The recording and voice recorder leave us to assume the captain left the cabin for a short period of time and could not return unfortunately.

"It seems to be true the colleague who remained denied him access back to the cockpit in order to start the fatal descent into the French Alps."

"I have to say it leaves us speechless here at Germanwings and Lufthansa, I can only repeat what I said over the last few days, we are deeply shocked, and were not able to imagine this situation could get any worse.

"In our industry since the events of 9/11 the access to cockpits was changed, the doors have been reinforced so that access is not possible so that the door cannot be opened even by weapons.

"When one pilot leaves the cockpit for biological reasons, he can ring a bell, there are screens to detect who this person is. If this is a colleague or someone from the crew there is a button you can press and the door will open.

"If no one reacts the door will open automatically, this can be impeded by those in the cockpit by pressing a lock lever and closing the door for five minutes."

"The co-pilot interrupted his training six years, I would be interested to know why.

"I cannot tell you anything about the reasons of this interruption, but I told you before that anybody interrupts the training has to do a lot of tests so the competence and fitness would be checked again."

The black box from the Germanwings Airbus A320

Spohr said, of the co-pilot deploying the five-minute over-ride: "You can never exclude such an individual event. No system in the world could manage to do that."

Asked about the theory that the co-pilot killed himself, he said: “We can only speculate what might have been the motivation of the co-pilot. In a company that prides itself on its safety record, this is a shock. We select cockpit personnel carefully.”

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin told reporters:

"The most probable interpretation is that the co-pilot refused to open the cockpit door to the pilot and actioned the button which started the descent procedure.

"We can only deduct that it destroyed this plane."

He said: “We have managed to get the transcript of the last 30 minutes.

“In the first 20 minutes the pilots talk in a normal fashion being courteous with each other like two normal pilots during a flight.

“Then we hear the command asking the co-pilot to take over and we hear the sound of a chair being pushed back and a door closing. So we assume that he went to the loo or something.

Students gather at a memorial in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium school in Haltern am See (Getty Images)

“So the co-pilot at that moment is on his own in charge of the plane and it's while hes alone... that he uses the flight monitoring system which starts the descent of the aeroplane.

“This action... can only be done voluntarily.

“We hear several cries of the pilot asking to access [the cockpit]. He identifies himself on the intercom system but there's no answer from the co-pilot.

“He then knocks on the door to ask for it to be opened and he has no response from the co-pilot.

The expert said: 'Flying straight into the mountains makes no sense' (Reuters)

“We hear at that moment breathing and we hear this breathing from inside the cockpit, and we hear this breathing until the moment of impact so we conclude the pilot is alive at this point.

“The tower then ask them to do a distress signal but again there is no response from the cockpit so the aeroplane becomes a priority for a forced landing.

“Other planes try to contact this Airbus and no answer is forthcoming.

“There are alarm systems which indicate to all those on board the proximity of the ground and then we hear noises of the door trying to be broken into.

A Germanwings employee places flowers in commemoration of the victims of the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps, at the airport in Duesseldorf, Germany

“This is the cockpit door, which according to international measures is reinforced.

“So these alarms go off on the plane which are to indicate the proximity of the ground and just before the final impact we hear the sound of the first impact.

“It's believed that the plane may have glided or hit initially before the final impact.

“No distress signal has been received and no answer was received despite the numerous calls from the tower.

The German side stand in silence in tribute to the Germanwings victims (GETTY IMAGES)

“The interpretation on this day, and I'm talking today 48 hours after the crash... is the most probable interpretation is that the co-pilot due to a voluntary abstention - a voluntary abstention - refused to open the cabin door to the pilot.

“He refused to open the cockpit door and [cancel] the button which starts the descent procedure.

“I remind you that in the last eight minutes this aeroplane went from 12,000m to 2,000m.

“It's normal breathing. He didn't say a single word after the pilot left the cockpit. Apparently it's impossible to override the system.

“He had no reason to do this.

“On the recording you literally hear the screams only on the last moments and nothing else.

“The co pilot had only been working a few months and had a few 100 hours on this aeroplane.

“At this stage nothing indicates a terrorist attack. Obviously we will see how this investigation progresses.

“When you suicide you normally do it by yourself. When you have 150 people with you, you wouldn't normally call it suicide. That's why I'm not using this word."

When asked about Mr Lubitz's ethnicity, Mr Robin said: "He was a German national and I don't know his ethnic background.

"He is not listed as a terrorist, if that is what you are insinuating."

Asked further questions about the co-pilot's religion, he said: "I don't think this is where this lies. I don't think we will get any answers there."

He said German authorities were taking charge of the investigation of Lubitz.

Mr Robin said black box recordings showed that Lubitz "was breathing normally, it wasn't the breathing of someone who was struggling".

On whether the passengers realised what was happening, Mr Robin said: "I think the victims only realised at the last moment because on the recording we only hear the screams on the last moments of the recording."

He added: "I believe that we owe the families the transparency of what the investigation is pointing to and what is going on, we owe it to them to tell them what happened.

"The families have been informed of everything I just told you."

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