'Damn it! We're going to crash. It can't be true!': pilots' chilling last few moments of confusion and denial before plane crash

A new book has revealed the chilling last few minutes of confusion between the pilots of Air France 447 before it plunged into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, with one of them exclaiming: "Damn it! We're going to crash. It can't be true!"

His co-pilot replied: "But what's happening?" Moments later, the audio ended.

I don't have control of the plane, I don't have control of the plane at all

All 228 passengers and crew on board the Airbus A330-200 died in the crash.

The book, Rio-Paris Crash: A Collection of Pilot Errors, written by French aviation author Jean-Pierre Otelli, described a scene in the Airbus cockpit that was dominated by confusion, a lack of co-ordination, and denial among the flight crew as they struggled to deal with a stall.

The full transcript of the discussion between the pilots Marc Dubois, the 58-year-old captain of the plane, who had 11,000 flying hours, David Robert, 37 and Pierre-Cedric Bonin, 32, was previously withheld by air accident investigators who said they did not want to upset their families, London's Daily Telegraph reported.

"So is he coming?" Mr Robert said after Mr Dubois left the cockpit for a break.

"Hey what are you ... " Mr Dubois said when he returned.

Mr Robert: "What's happening? I don't know, I don't know what's happening."

Mr Bonin: "I've got a problem I don't have vertical speed. I don't have any indication."

Mr Dubois: "I don't know, but right now we're descending."

The plane approached the sea and was rocking from side to side at this time.

Mr Robert: "What do you think? What do you think? What should we do?"

Mr Bonin: "I don't have control of the plane, I don't have control of the plane at all."

In the final exchange, Mr Dubois is heard to say: "Ten degrees pitch."

Mr Robert: "Go back up! … Go back up! … Go back up! … Go back up!"

Mr Bonin: "But I've been going down at maximum level for a while."

Mr Dubois: "No, No, No! … Don't go up! … No, No!"

Mr Bonin: "Go down, then!"

Mr Robert: "Damn it! We're going to crash. It can't be true!"

Mr Bonin: "But what's happening?!"

The audio ended.

The reports previously released by France's Bureau d'Enquetes sur les Accidents (BEA) investigators showed the crew pulled the jet into a steep climb until it slowed to an aerodynamic stall before slumping into the sea.

"This accident, and the mystery surrounding it, elicited huge emotion in France as well as in Brazil," Otelli wrote in the book.

"Beyond the questions raised about modern air safety and pilot training, the crash of the Rio-Paris flight will remain a case study in the annals of air transport."

BEA said it strongly condemned the disclosure of the full transcript.

The mention of personal conversations between the crew members "have no bearing on the event, which shows a lack of respect for the memory of the late crew members", the accident bureau said.

BEA is set to issue a final report on the accident in June next year following meetings of experts that will examine pilot behaviours in stressful situations.

An interim report from a criminal probe this month broadly endorsed the findings by BEA in a report in May, which showed ice-blocked speed sensors shut down the aircraft's autopilot and the crew reacting incorrectly.

Air France said yesterday the information in the book was "non-verified, and non-verifiable", saying it brought "no new elements".

Manslaughter charges have been filed against Air France and Airbus as part of the criminal investigation, which could increase damages payouts if any criminal liability is established.

Bloomberg and Glenda Kwek