Saturday 3 December 2016

Lufthansa knew that pilot of doomed plane had depression

Justin Huggler

Published 01/04/2015 | 02:30

Andreas Lubitz
Andreas Lubitz

Lufthansa has admitted for the first time that it knew Andreas Lubitz, the German co-pilot who deliberately crashed a passenger jet in the Alps, suffered from serious depression.

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The airline had previously confirmed that Lubitz had taken an extended break from training, but refused to say why.

The admission came as Lubitz's girlfriend reportedly told investigators she was aware he had mental health problems, but had no idea they were so serious. There were also claims that a video of the final moments of the flight had survived the crash.

'Paris Match' magazine and 'Bild', the German newspaper, said they had obtained a video filmed inside the plane that showed passengers screaming.

Cries of "My God" in several languages can also be heard on the video, which was taken on a mobile phone, according to the publications.

There are also three loud metallic bangs, which could be the sound of Capt Patrick Sondheimer trying to break down the locked cockpit door.

The video also shows what appears to be part of the aircraft hitting the mountains, according to 'Bild'.

An official involved in the recovery operation denied that any mobile phone footage had been found by investigators at the site.

Investigators believe that Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit and crashed the Germanwings flight last week, killing himself and 149 people on board.

Lufthansa, Germanwings' parent company, last night admitted that Lubitz had told the airline's flight training school that he suffered a serious episode of depression in 2009, citing emails between the pilot and the flight school.

German prosecutors said on Monday that Lubitz's medical files show he underwent a prolonged course of therapy for "suicidal tendencies" before getting his pilot's licence. Lufthansa did not comment on his suicidal tendencies yesterday, but has previously said that German confidentiality rules meant that the company had no knowledge of Lubitz's medical records.

Lufthansa is facing unlimited liability for damages in the crash, lawyers have said, and has told its insurers to set aside €280m.

The sum is nearly twice as much as insurers would usually pay out over an air accident. The couple were working on Lubitz's psychological problems together, a European government official said.

Irish Independent

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