It took just four minutes for Air France flight 447 to plummet into the Atlantic Ocean after stalling between Brazil and Africa, according to a report from Der Spiegel. The German paper cited a source close to the investigative team, which has been analyzing the recordings since mid-May.
The recordings show that the captain was not in the cockpit when the Airbus A330 began experiencing trouble. The captain can reportedly be heard rushing back to the cockpit, shouting instructions at his co-pilots when the plane stalled.
The black boxes were extracted in early May by robots combing the wreckage nearly 2.5 miles below the ocean's surface. The flight crashed in June 2009 when it was en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. The crash killed all 228 people on board.
The cause of the crash is still unknown, but Der Spiegel reports that a combination of human and technical errors may be to blame. The plane was in the midst of a treacherous storm that froze its speed sensors, a critical instrument for determining and maintaining flight speed. In such situations, a pilot must maintain an exact speed or the plane will stall.
"If the plane can't make a recovery, it plummets at breakneck speed," Jean François Huzen, an Air France captain and union representative for pilots, told Der Spiegel. The paper also suggested a computer could have been responsible for the plane's final, fatal maneuver.
Air France and France's air accident investigation agency declined to comment on the report, according to the Daily News.