Germanwings crash: Doctors recommended co-pilot be treated in psychiatric hospital two weeks before tragedy

Andreas Lubitz killed 149 people when he deliberately flew flight 9525 into a mountain in the French Alps after locking the pilot out of the cockpit

John Lichfield
Sunday 13 March 2016 11:24 GMT
Andreas Lubitz , co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525
Andreas Lubitz , co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525

The suicidal pilot of the Germanwings aircraft that crashed into the French Alps almost a year ago killing 150 people was told to seek treatment in a psychiatric hospital two weeks before the disaster.

The recommendation was made by a private doctor consulted by Andreas Lubitz but was not revealed to the airline, according to the final report by the French air accident investigation bureau, BEA.

The report confirms that Lubitz, the co-pilot, locked his senior pilot out of the cockpit before plunging the Barcelona to Dusseldorf flight into an Alpine ridge killing all 150 people on board on 24 March last year.

The BEA recommends that all pilots should be subjected to regular medical tests to examine their capacity to fly “and especially for psychological or psychiatric problems”. The report says that Germany, and all European countries, should reconsider the “lack of clear guidelines” on when the principle of medical privacy should be abandoned in the name of public safety.

The Bureau d'enquêtes et d'analyses (BEA) says investigations in Germany show that Lubitz began to display symptons consistent with psychotic depression in December 2014, four months before the crash. He consulted a string of doctors, none of whom alerted Germanwings or the German aviation authorities.

German prosecutors have also found evidence that Lubitz had problems with his eyesight and feared losing his job. Examination of his computer showed that he had researched suicide methods in the months before the disaster.

The co-pilot was allowed to fly because of a ”waiver” following a previous episode of depression in 2008-9. The report says he knew that this waiver would be revoked – removing his licence – if he reported his psychiatric problems to his employer.

Search and rescue workers collecting debris at the crash site in the French Alps

It appears he did not follow up the recommendation by a private doctor in early March last year that he should seek treatment in a psychiatric clinic.

At a press conference presenting the report, Arnaud Desjardins, the chief French investigator, demanded “clearer rules” on when medical secrecy should be abandoned

“Several private doctors had information indicating that Lubitz was sick,” he said. “This information did not reach the aviation authorities, nor his employer, Germanwings.”

More systematic medical tests on pilots should include, he said, “accompanying measures” which would prevent pilots from concealing medical conditions because they feared losing their flying licences

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