Germanwings co-pilot had suicidal tendencies, investigators say

Andreas Lubitz had undergone psychotherapeutic treatment, German prosecutors' office says

By REUTERS
March 30, 2015 16:40
3 minute read.
Andreas Lubitz

Andreas Lubitz. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)

The Germanwings co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing a plane in the French Alps last week had been treated in the past for suicidal tendencies, German state prosecutors said on Monday.

"Several years ago before obtaining his pilot's license the co-pilot was in a long period of psychotherapeutic treatment with noticeable suicidal tendencies," the prosecutors' office in Dusseldorf, where the pilot lived and where the flight from Barcelona was heading, said in the statement.

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The prosecutors' office added that since then he had not shown any signs of suicidal behavior nor aggressive tendencies towards others in visits to doctors.

A German newspaper reported  on Sunday that Andreas Lubitz may have been suffering from a detached retina but investigators are unsure whether his vision problems had physical or psychological causes, .

Bild am Sonntag also reported how the captain of the Germanwings Airbus had screamed "open the damn door!" to the co-pilot as he tried to get back into the locked cockpit before the jet crashed last Tuesday, killing all 150 on board.

Another German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, quoted a senior investigator as saying the 27-year-old  Lubitz "was treated by several neurologists and psychiatrists" and that a number of medications had been found in his apartment.

Police also discovered personal notes that showed Lubitz suffered from "severe subjective overstress symptoms", he added.

Lufthansa, the parent company of the budget airline, said the carrier was unaware of a psychosomatic or any other illness affecting Lubitz. "We have no information of our own on that," a Lufthansa spokesman said.

The mass circulation Bild am Sonntag said investigators had found evidence that Lubitz feared losing his eyesight, apparently because of a detached retina.

However, it was unclear whether this was due to an organic failure or psychosomatic illness, when physical problems are thought to be caused or aggravated by psychological factors such as stress.

"FOR GOD'S SAKE"

Investigators have retrieved cockpit voice recordings from one of the A320 jet's "black boxes", which they say show Lubitz locked himself alone in the cockpit, before causing the jet to crash in southern France as it headed to Dusseldorf from Barcelona.

Bild am Sonntag reported that the voice recorder data showed that the locked-out captain said to his colleague inside the cockpit: "For God's sake, open the door."

The pilot can then be heard trying to smash the door down. Even when he yells: "Open the damn door!" Lubitz does not give an answer as passengers' screams can be heard in the background just seconds before the fatal crash, the paper said.

The newspaper also reported that Lubitz's girlfriend, a teacher at a secondary school in a small town near Duesseldorf, had recently told students she was expecting a baby.

On Saturday, Bild published an interview with a woman who said she had a relationship with Lubitz in 2014 and that he told her about planning a spectacular gesture so "everyone will know my name and remember it".

AIRBUS BOSS CRITICIZES MEDIA


The chief executive of Airbus, which made the aircraft that Lubitz crashed, criticized uninformed experts sounding off about the disaster on television talk shows and he called for better oversight of the media.

"Some (experts) speculated without any facts, fantasized and lied. That makes a mockery of the victims," Tom Enders was quoted as saying by Bild am Sonntag.

Airbus has not been in the crosshairs of investigators following the crash as evidence early on pointed to a deliberate act by Lubitz, but French investigators warned on Saturday that it was too early to rule out other explanations for the crash.

Berlin aims to review safety rules for airlines in cooperation with the industry. "There are high safety standards in the aviation sector, but they still need regular updating," Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt told Bild am Sonntag.

Several airlines, including Lufthansa, have changed their rules since the crash and now require two crew members in the cockpit at all times, a measure already mandatory in the United States but not in Europe.


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