French investigators have made a breakthrough in the investigation into what caused Germanwings flight 4U9525 to crash yesterday, they have announced.
The team has managed to access the first “usable data” from the black box from the Airbus A320 that was discovered yesterday afternoon at the crash site in the French Alps.
"We have just succeeded in extracting usable data from the cockpit voice recorder," said Remi Jouty, head of French air crash investigation agency BEA said at a press conference this afternoon.
The black box records the pilots' conversations and it is hoped may hold the key to the reason for the rapid eight-minute descent that led to the plane crashing in the mountains.
Jouty said there were sounds and voices on the cockpit voice recorder, but that there were still no clear answers.
The plane's last communication was a routine one with air traffic control, confirming instructions to continue on its planned flight path. It began to descend just a minute later.
Jouty said controllers observed the plane beginning to descend and tried to get back in contact with the pilots but without success.
He said: "The plane hit with great velocity, so parts are scattered over a great distance and have broken up into very small pieces."
The second black box is yet to be found, he confirmed.