Saturday 25 November 2017

Killer pilot urged to get help two weeks before horror crash

Andreas Lubitz, the German pilot who crashed a Germanwings jet into the Alps
Andreas Lubitz, the German pilot who crashed a Germanwings jet into the Alps

Tim Hepher

French investigators have recommended tougher medical checks for pilots after uncovering fresh evidence of unreported concerns over the mental state of a German pilot who crashed his jet into the Alps last year, killing 150 people.

France's BEA air accident investigation agency said a doctor consulted by Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had recommended two weeks before the disaster that he should be treated in a psychiatric hospital.

The unidentified private physician was one of a number of doctors seen by the 27-year-old as he wrestled with symptoms of a "psychotic depressive episode" that started in December 2014 and may have lasted until the day of the crash, it said.

Investigators believe Lubitz - who had a history of depression - barricaded himself into the cockpit and deliberately propelled his Airbus jet into a mountainside on March 24, 2015, killing everyone aboard.

The BEA said in its final report that neither Lubitz nor any of his doctors had alerted aviation authorities or his airline about his illness, for which he was being treated with anti-depressants.

It urged the World Health Organisation and European Commission to draw up rules to oblige doctors to inform authorities when a patient's health is very likely to affect public safety: if necessary against the patient's consent.

It also called for tougher inspections when pilots with a history of psychiatric problems are declared fit to fly.

None of the doctors who treated Lubitz agreed to speak to French or German crash investigators, the agency said.

Prosecutors have found evidence that Lubitz, who also had eyesight problems and may have feared losing his job, had researched suicide methods and concealed his illness.

Lubitz had been flying on a medical certificate that contained a waiver because of a severe depressive episode from August 2008 to July 2009. The waiver stated that the certificate would become invalid if there was a relapse into depression.

Irish Independent

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