LE BOURGET, France (AP) — Here is a look at the short journey and violent end of the German budget airline flight that crashed into the French Alps with 150 people aboard, based on information from French accident investigators, government officials and the airline Germanwings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa:
MONDAY, MARCH 23
The plane, a Germanwings Airbus A320, undergoes a routine safety check at Duesseldorf Airport.
TUESDAY, MARCH 24
8:57 a.m. Central European Time (0757GMT)
The 24-year-old A320 single-aisle jet arrives in Barcelona from Duesseldorf.
Germanwings Flight 9525 takes off from Barcelona, slightly delayed because of airport congestion, for the return trip to Duesseldorf, about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) away.
Aboard were 144 passengers, two pilots and four cabin staff. Among them: babies, a group of German high-school students, an American contractor and her daughter, and three generations of the same Spanish family.
The pilots make their last contact with air traffic control in a routine message seeking and obtaining permission to continue course. At the time, the aircraft had reached its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet, and was over the Mediterranean Sea approaching the region around Marseille.
The captain asks the co-pilot to take over, and can be heard leaving the cockpit, according to the plane’s voice recorder.
The copilot begins the plane’s descent above the French coast, just as its flight path crosses over land.
Air traffic controllers try to contact the pilots, but receive no response.
During the final minutes of the flight, pounding could be heard on the cockpit door as plane alarms sounded, but the co-pilot’s breathing was normal the whole time, according to the flight voice recorder recovered from the scene of the crash.
The last radar position of the plane is registered, at 6,175 feet — only slightly higher than the peaks of the southern French Alps below. The French Air Force sends a Mirage fighter jet to the plane’s last known location. An air force official says the Mirage arrived too late to help, and never crossed paths with the A320.
Rescuers in helicopters spot the debris, scattered across a ravine and the slopes of the Col de Mariaud. Amid the pulverized remains, there were no survivors.