GERMANWINGS CRASH

Germanwings pilot hid illness from employers and colleagues

A doctor’s note was found torn up in the Düsseldorf apartment of Andreas Lubitz It reveals that he had been given medical leave on the day of the air crash, which killed 150

The co-pilot from the Germanwings plane, Andreas Lubitz.
The co-pilot from the Germanwings plane, Andreas Lubitz. STRINGER / REUTERS

The public prosecutor in Düsseldorf announced on Friday that Andreas Lubitz, the 27-year-old co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings flight, “hid” an illness from his employers and his colleagues. The nature of that illness, however, has not been specified.

Searches carried out by the police in the young man’s Düsseldorf apartment have been key to the conclusions. The authorities did not locate either a suicide note or any political or religious material that could suggest terrorist intentions behind his actions, which saw the pilot locked out of the cockpit and the plane set to smash into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board. Most of the passengers were from Spain and Germany.

Authorities did not locate a suicide note or any material that could suggest terrorist intentions behind his actions

What has been located are medical documents that reveal he was receiving treatment, and that he had been given medical leave for the day of the accident. According to the public prosecutor, the police found that medical note torn into pieces.

The German prosecutor’s statement did not mention the possibility of a mental illness, and explained that it would take several days to analyze the information found in the searches. When the prosecutor has conclusive proof, the statement said, the information would be communicated to the families of the victims and to the public.

On Thursday the CEO of Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr, told a press conference that Lubitz had interrupted his training six years ago for medical reasons. He declined to provide further details for “reasons of confidentiality,” but he did insist that the co-pilot had passed all necessary tests. “He was 100 percent fit to fly,” he explained.

According to German tabloid newspaper Bild, the medical leave was due to a “serious episode of depression.” Citing internal documents and “circles from Lufthansa,” the daily claims that he left his training in 2009 and spent six months in psychiatric treatment.

This serious episode is reflected in the co-pilot’s file with the German department of air traffic control, which had assigned Lubitz the code “SIC,” meaning that he had to be given “regular medical check-ups.” The German public TV station ARD has also confirmed this last detail.

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