A-320 U49525 crash – shaping consensus

Shaping consensus into required shape and form

Transcript of voice recording published on a Sunday in BILD (behind paywall). Bild is a gossip rag, to refer to it kindly.
The cockpit voice recording was controlled by Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses, in a Paris suburb; Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin reported to be in charge of the investigation.

Who is Brice Robin?

He moved to Marseille to become the city’s prosecutor in February 2013. In 2013 Brice Robin was part of an investigation that saw police arrest 21 people in raids on the horsemeat industry across southern France on suspicion that horses were being used to develop medicines sold fraudulently for food. He also worked on the shooting of Monegasque Helene Pastor-Pallanca in 2014. The death of the Monaco heiress in Nice made headlines after police found “suspicious” financial transactions on bank accounts belonging to her son-in-law, Robin said. Pastor was a member of one of Monaco’s richest families. He served as the prosecutor of a match-fixing scandal involving several players from the French championship handball club Montpellier.

Brice Robin quotes about the A-320 cockpit voice recording

“This was voluntary, this was deliberate,” Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said. “He refused to open the cabin door in order to let the pilot back in. I repeat. He refused to let the pilot back in. He is the one who pressed the button that allowed the plane to begin descending and lose altitude.

“We start hearing banging, someone actually trying to break the door down,” Robin said. “That’s why the alarms were let off — because these were protocols that were put in place in case of any terror attack.” There was no response. “It was absolute silence in the cockpit” except for the steady breathing.

“Again, no distress signal, zero, no ‘help me’ or SOS,” he said. “Nothing of this sort was received by air-traffic control.”

Instrument alarms went off, but no distress call ever went out from the cockpit, and the control tower’s pleas for a response went unanswered.

Close Your Eyes, Shut Off Your Brain, The Sound Tells The Whole Story

The flight data recorder is reportedly yet to be found. Investigators have therefore had to rely on the voice recording alone, taken from two microphones in the crew’s headsets and one general microphone positioned on the instrument panel. As it turns out, the cause of the accident appears to have been so appallingly simple that the 30-minute recording it holds is more than enough: the sounds tell the whole story.

The club of those who are allowed to analyze the voice data recording is tightly controlled.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigates air accidents in the United Kingdom. It is a branch of the Department for Transport and is based on the grounds of Farnborough Airport in Farnborough, Hampshire.

In Farnborough, at the AAIB’s base, there’s a soundproofed room with a magnetic seal – to prevent electronic eavesdropping – where investigators gather to listen. There are only three such rooms in Europe, and not many more people who understand what it’s like to hear a plane’s last moments. “There’s a very large number who call themselves investigators,” says Graham Braithwaite, professor of safety and accident investigation at Cranfield University (who, he points out, has never listened to such a tape himself). “There’s a smaller number who I would say actually are investigators. Fifty working for the AAIB, and maybe a couple of hundred in total in this country. They try to restrict who hears something like that – unless you need to, you don’t. It is a very tightly controlled thing. And you can be an experienced investigator with many years behind you, and you can be affected more by one than another.”

“It’s really like a puzzle, putting it back together,” says Steven Meyers, an aircraft accident investigator and head of DVI Aviation. Except lots of pieces are missing, or scorched, or shattered, and there’s no image on the box to give you guidelines.

BEA is responsible for the safety investigations in civil aviation in France. BILD has the investigation all buttoned up before the bodies have been identified.

Richard Quest called it “unbelievable” that the black box audio would be leaked in this manner. This is one of those rare times that I agree with Quest. LiveLeak  uploaded “Last 60s of CVR audio file”  Mar-26-2015

Cockpit recordings are some of the most sensitive and closely held parts of aviation crash investigations. They’re never officially released. An edited and redacted version of the transcript is usually published in part of a final report on an incident.

I already see multiple problems with the transcript and the spread of it.
The most glaring one is the timeline.

According to Bild on CNN:
• There are 1.5 hours of sound on the voice recorder.
• The flight took off 20 minutes late, and Capt. Patrick Sondenheimer apologizes for the delay and says they will try and make up for it in the air.
• Even before takeoff, the captain tells co-pilot Andreas Lubitz that he didn’t manage to go to the bathroom in Barcelona. Lubitz tells him he can go anytime.
• The plane reaches its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet at 10:27 a.. local time.
• The captain asks the co-pilot to prepare the landing.
• After the check, Lubitz repeats to the captain, “You can go now.” There is the sound of a seat moving backward. After that, the captain is heard saying, “You can take over.”
• At 10:29 a.., air traffic radar detects that the plane is beginning to descend.
• At 10:32 a.., air traffic controllers contact the plane and receive no answer. Almost at the same time, an alarm goes off in the cockpit saying “sink rate.”
• Shortly after there is a loud bang on the door. The pilot can be heard screaming, “For God’s sake, open the door!” Passengers can be heard screaming in the background.
• At 10:35 a.., loud metallic bangs can be heard as though someone is trying to knock down the door. The plane is at about 23,000 feet.
• Ninety seconds later, another alarm goes off: “Terrain — pull up!” The plane is at about 16,400 feet. The captain is heard screaming, “Open the damn door!”
• At 10:38 a.., the plane is descending toward the French Alps, and the co-pilot can be heard breathing. The plane is at about 13,100 feet.
• At 10:40 a.., it sounds like the plane’s right wing scrapes a mountaintop, then screams can be heard one more time. Those are the last sounds on the voice recorder.

OOPS – captain in cockpit with co-pilot locked out


How did this happen?

Different systems record a landing at 11:49AM, 9 minutes before schedule.


A320-211 D-APIX, MSN 147, FSN 0018; departed Barcelona from gate M3, Last sound on the voice recorder 10:40; captain asks the co-pilot to prepare the landing; tracking system records landing 11:49;




A French military Mirage jet was scrambled from the Orange-Caritat Air Base to intercept the aircraft. The Dassault Mirage 2000 is a French multirole, single-engine fourth-generation jet fighter. The Mirage 2000 is equipped with the Thales Serval Radar warning receiver. It is also equipped with the Dassault Sabre radar jamming and deception in a pod below the bottom of the tailfin.

Radar Jamming and deception (Electronic countermeasure) is the intentional emission of radio frequency signals to interfere with the operation of a radar by saturating its receiver with noise or false information.

Mirage source here and here

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