Lufthansa has some ‘splaining to do

 Photograph: Michael Mueller/AP

Photograph: Michael Mueller/AP

The Germanwings co-pilot said to have deliberately crashed his plane with 149 others aboard into the French Alps reportedly suffered serious depression six years ago.

Andreas Lubitz sought psychiatric help for “a bout of heavy depression” in 2009 and was still getting assistance from doctors, German daily Bild reported on Friday, quoting documents from Germany’s air transport regulator Luftfahrtbundesamt (LBA).

The 28-year-old was receiving “regular private medical” treatment, the paper said, adding that Germanwings’ parent company Lufthansa had transmitted the information to the LBA.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said on Thursday Lubitz had suspended his pilot training, which began in 2008, “for a certain period” but he did not give more details.

Lubitz later continued and was able to qualify for the Airbus A320 in 2013.

Bild said during the period of his training setback Lubitz had suffered “depressions and anxiety attacks”.

The pilot’s records were due to be examined by experts in Germany on Friday before being handed to French investigators, Bild reported.

Two properties used by Lubitz in western Germany were searched by police late on Thursday as officials sought clues as to how the outwardly level-headed pilot could have decided to commit what is thought to have been suicide and mass murder.

It appears suicidal co-pilot?Andreas Lubitz’s struggles were well known to the company, and yet they let him fly around with the lives of others in his hands.

Instead of changing a policy of having two people on a flight deck, this will drive a change in regular mental health check for pilots. ?Having two people on the flight deck will count for very little when someone wants to fly a plane into a mountain on purpose.

“Documents with medical contents were confiscated that point towards an existing illness and corresponding treatment by doctors,” said the prosecutors’ office in Duesseldorf, where the co-pilot lived and where the doomed flight from Barcelona was heading.

“The fact there are sick notes saying he was unable to work, among other things, that were found torn up, which were recent and even from the day of the crime, support the assumption based on the preliminary examination that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and his professional colleagues,” the German prosecutors said.

They found no suicide note or confession, “nor was there any evidence of a political or religious background to what happened”, they added.

Lufthansa will probably have to shoulder most of the responsibility of not culling a pilot with severe “anxiety” attacks from its ranks. ?Being a pilot is a job where you can not be anything but on the top of your game. ?The signs were there for years.


– APF via 3 News, Reuters via ODT