German air chiefs 'unaware' of Lubitz's problems
The German aviation authority did not know about co-pilot Andreas Lubitz's medical background prior to the Germanwings crash that killed 150 people, it admitted yesterday, raising more questions over medical oversight of pilots.
Lubitz, believed to have deliberately steered the plane into a mountain in the French Alps, broke off his pilot training for several months in 2009, and on restarting informed the Lufthansa pilot training school by email he had overcome a period of severe depression.
Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, has said he passed all medical and suitability tests upon restarting training.
The Luftfahrtbundesamt (LBA), the German authority which issues pilots' licences based on annual fit-to-fly certificates given by doctors and can impose restrictions on pilots, said it had "no information at all" prior to the crash about this period of depression.
According to European regulations, doctors should refer pilots with psychiatric conditions to the licensing authority. The regulations do not specify whether this also applies to pilots who have suffered from psychiatric conditions in the past.
"Lufthansa meets its duty to provide information to the LBA," the airline said.
The statement from the LBA comes a day after the European Commission said its aviation regulator EASA had found "issues" with Germany's aviation authority in a regular review of air safety enforcement.
The 'Wall Street Journal' said the EC told Berlin in November "to remedy the long-standing problems" - months before the Germanwings crash on March 24.
EU officials found the LBA had a lack of staff, which could have limited its ability to carry out checks on planes and crew
German prosecutors have said a computer found in Lubitz's home revealed internet searches on how to commit suicide as well as on cockpit doors and safety precautions related to them.
Yesterday, German newspaper 'Bild am Sonntag' said investigators had found Lubitz used the username "Skydevil" to log on to the computer and had recently made Internet searches on "bipolarity", "manic depression" as well as on "migraines", "impaired vision" and "acoustic trauma".