Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Germanwings plane crash: Andreas Lubitz 'had eyesight problems' and woke from nightmares 'screaming we’re going down'

Flight stewardess says Lubitz 'would become a different person' when he discussed work

Heather Saul
Saturday 28 March 2015 14:15 GMT
Andreas Lubitz taking part in the Airport Hamburg 10-mile run on September 13, 2009 in Hamburg
Andreas Lubitz taking part in the Airport Hamburg 10-mile run on September 13, 2009 in Hamburg (AFP)

The co-pilot suspected of “intentionally” crashing a plane into the French Alps reportedly sought treatment for vision problems which could have affected his piloting abilities.

Sources described as officials with knowledge of the investigation told The New York Times that authorities investigating the crash have not ruled out the possibility that the visual impairment could have been psychosomatic.

The severity of the reported condition is not yet known. A spokesperson for Germanwings told The Independent it could not comment on medical issues.

Andreas Lubitz's former girlfriend claims he was a tormented man who would wake up from nightmares screaming “we’re going down!”.

The woman, a flight stewardess named only as Maria W., said he told her he was receiving psychiatric treatment and would wake up distressed in the night during their five-month relationship in 2014.

"At night, he woke up and screamed: 'We're going down!', because he had nightmares,” she said. “He knew how to hide from other people what was really going on inside."

She was quoted by the German newspaper Bild as recalling how Lubitz would change when he talked about the pressures and conditions of his job.

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

"He never talked much about his illness, only that he was in psychiatric treatment,” she said.

"We always talked a lot about work and then he became a different person. He became upset about the conditions we worked under: too little money, fear of losing the contract, too much pressure."

German prosecutors say there are indications Lubitz concealed an illness from his employers and had been signed off work on the day of the air disaster. Police searching his home discovered torn-up medical notes and Germanwings later confirmed it did not receive sick notes from Lubitz.

The University of Dusseldorf Hospital released a statement on Friday confirming Lubitz had been given a "diagnostic evaluation" at the hospital in March. It later confirmed that he was not treated for depression there.

On Saturday, a member of his local flying club told French media that Lubitz was familiar with the French Alps and was even “obsessed” with the area.

Maria said news of the crash triggered a memory of previous conversations with the 27-year-old, with one sentence in particular weighing heavily in her mind. “There was just a tape playing in my head of what he said.

"'One day I'll do something that will change the system, and then everyone will know my name and remember it'.

"I didn't know what he meant by that at the time, but now it's obvious," she continued.

She claimed that if Lubitz did deliberately down the plane, it would be “because he realised that, due to his health problems, his big dream of working at Lufthansa, of a having job as a pilot, and as a pilot on long-distance flights, was nearly impossible”.

Additional reporting by agencies

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in