Plane Crash: Pilots’ Last Words Captured in Air Disaster Black Box Recordings

Warning: painful content

The cockpit voice recorder is one of the most important relics of a plane crash, but it is painful.

One of the two parts comprising an aircraft’s black box, the cockpit voice recorder picks up conversations and alerts on the crashed planes to help investigators determine what went wrong.

But while these recordings are essential, they can often be difficult to listen to.

Here are some final words from the chilling cockpit that spell panic, confusion and sometimes acceptance from flight crew in the last moments before some of the most notorious crashes in history.

Pakistan Flight 8303

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused air travel to virtually halt, but 2020 was not without fatal accidents – one of the worst of which was the crash of Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303 in Karachi in May.

97 people were killed on board, but incredibly, two people survived when the plane lost two engines and crashed into a residential area after several attempts to land at Jinnah International Airport.

The pilot’s recent exchange transmission with Air Traffic Control indicated that he knew the Airbus A320 had an engine problem.

“We will return, sir,” said the pilot, according to an English text. “We have lost two engines.”

“Sir, mayday, mayday, mayday Pakistan 8303.” Then transmission ended.

Survivor Muhammad Zubair told reporters that the last he heard before the plane crash was that the pilot was telling passengers via the intercom system that they had engine problems and that landing would be “disturbing”.

Rescue workers and locals search for survivors in the wreck of Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303. Photo / AP
Rescue workers and locals search for survivors in the wreck of Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303. Photo / AP

Air France Flight 447

All 228 passengers and crew died when Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris plunged into its stomach first in the Atlantic in June 2009.

For years, the cause of the crash – the worst in Air France history – has been a mystery. Cockpit recordings would later reveal cockpit chaos as technical problems with the A330 were exacerbated by the fact that the experienced pilot was asleep, leaving a responsible novice as problems arose with instruments that measured the aircraft’s speed and altitude.

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By the time the captain returned to the cockpit, the plane was off and it was too late.

“F ***, we’re going to crash! It’s not true! But what happens?” Senior Officer David Robert shouted as rookie co-pilot Pierre Cedric Bonin fights to gain control of the plane.

As a series of alerts continued, someone said, “Damn, we’re dead.”

Captain Mark Dubois spoke at last. “Ten degrees off the field,” he said. Two seconds later, the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Brazil, at a speed of 200 km / h.

Sailors from the Brazilian Navy recover the wreck of Air France Flight 447 in the Atlantic Ocean.  The attached photo
Sailors from the Brazilian Navy recover the wreck of Air France Flight 447 in the Atlantic Ocean. The attached photo

Lion Air Flight 610

One of the recent worst aviation tragedies was the crash of a mysterious Lion Air plane in the Java Sea off Indonesia in October 2018.

All 189 people on board died when the plane crashed after a short and erratic flight. It was the first of two fatal crashes of the new Boeing Max 8.

Six months after the accident, sources close to the investigation revealed the contents of the cockpit audio recordings, which captured the pilots trying to understand why the plane had flown irregularly.

The sources said the captain, who was piloting the plane, asked the first officer to check the plane’s handbook for checklists for abnormal events.

For the next nine minutes, the pilots remained calm while trying to control the plane.

In the last seconds before the accident, the Indian-born captain fell silent, and the first officer from Indonesia said “God is great,” or “God is great.”

Divers are searching for survivors of a Boeing 737 Max operated by Lion Air.  The attached photo
Divers are searching for survivors of a Boeing 737 Max operated by Lion Air. The attached photo

Southwest Pacific flight # 182

In September 1978, Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182 (PSA) collided with a Cessna light aircraft as it was landing and about to land at Lindbergh Field, now San Diego International Airport.

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135 people were killed on board a Southwest Pacific plane, two on board a Cessna plane and seven on the ground.

Due to the recording and subsequent investigation, the accident was found when the PSA crew lost sight of Cessna and did not report this fact to Air Traffic Control.

The recording from the PSA plane captures the sound of the collision and the flight crew’s response in the next twenty seconds until the plane crashes.

Captain: “What do we have here?”

First Officer: He hit us, man. He hit us.

Captain (on radio): “The tower, we’re on our way down, that’s PSA.”

Seconds later, the captain heard it again. “This is my lover!”

The last words before the end of the recording are: “Brace yourself. Amy, I love you.”

Pacific Airways Flight 182 Southwest Airlines burst into flames after colliding with a Cessna light plane in the sky over San Diego.  The attached photo
Pacific Airways Flight 182 Southwest Airlines burst into flames after colliding with a Cessna light plane in the sky over San Diego. The attached photo

Tenerife airport disaster

It happened more than four decades ago, but the Tenerife airport disaster in Spain remains the deadliest plane crash ever.

On March 27, 1977, two Boeing 747s – one operated by the Dutch carrier KLM, the other by the now-expired Pan American company – collided on the runway, causing a catastrophic fire that killed 583 people on both aircraft.

The accident occurred after a series of unfortunate events resulted in a Pan Am plane getting in the way of a KLM plane as KLM was preparing to take off. The Pan Am crew could be heard screaming into an oblivious KLM plane as it headed towards the runway.

“there he is!” Captain Pan am Victor Grops shouted in a cockpit audio recording. “Look at him! Damn, son of a father *** is coming!”

However, the two powerful planes collided in a catastrophic accident, resulting in the highest death toll ever.

The deadliest aviation disaster in history occurred in Tenerife, in 1977. Photo / YouTube
The deadliest aviation disaster in history occurred in Tenerife, in 1977. Photo / YouTube

United Airlines Flight 93

United Airlines Flight 93 was one of four commercial airliners hijacked by al Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001. The plane took off from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, bound for San Francisco, with 44 people on board, including four hijackers.

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Flight 93 crashes into an empty field in Pennsylvania. It was the only aircraft among the planes hijacked on September 11th that did not reach its intended target. The 9/11 Commission concluded that the hijackers smashed the plane to prevent passengers and crew from regaining control.

Cockpit Recording Record demands from terrorists who broke into the cockpit and requests for mercy from the cabin crew. The last words in Arabic: “Give it to me” were spoken eight times before the phrase “God is great” was repeated over and over before the accident.

The last words of a crew member were: “Down, push, push, push, push, push.”

United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.  Photo / Twitter: CelesteKellogg
United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Photo / Twitter: CelesteKellogg

LOT Polish Airlines Flight 5055

Polish Airlines Flight 5055, with 183 passengers and crew, took off from Frederic Chopin Airport in Warsaw bound for San Francisco with a stopover in New York.

But she never left Poland.

Shortly after take-off, the flight of May 9, 1987 was subjected to multiple catastrophic events that affected two engines and an elevator. About 30 minutes after the first engine exploded, the plane landed at Kabati Woods on the outskirts of Warsaw.

Cockpit recording captures a “orderly response” from the flight crew as they discuss their options with air traffic control, according to Flight Safety Australia. The decision was made to try to land in Warsaw, but the plane was unsuccessful.

Those dreadful last words were said in Polish, but translated into English as follows: “Good night, goodbye, we perish!”

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