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Tags: EU | France | Plane Crash

Co-Pilot Was Unfit to Work on Day of Plane Crash

Co-Pilot Was Unfit to Work on Day of Plane Crash
Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. (Stringer/Reuters/Landov)

Friday, 27 March 2015 01:48 PM EDT

The Germanwings co-pilot believed to have intentionally crashed a plane into the French Alps had a note from his doctor certifying him unfit to work on the day of the crash that he never passed on to his employer.


The note was among torn-up medical documents found during police searches of Andreas Lubitz’s Dusseldorf apartment and his parents’ house about 140 kilometers (87 miles) away in Montabaur, the prosecutors office leading the German probe said in a statement Friday.

Germanwings said it never received Lubitz’s sick note for Tuesday, a statement backed by the prosecutors’ initial findings. The 27-year-old suffered from an unspecified mental illness, said a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing details of an ongoing probe.

“Witness questioning on the matter and analysis of medical records will still take a few days,” Ralf Herrenbrueck, spokesman for the Dusseldorf prosecutors, said in the statement. “As soon as we have reliable findings, we will further inform relatives and the public.”

No suicide note or letter of responsibility was found in the Thursday searches for clues as to why Lubitz appears to have locked the captain out of the cockpit and then crashed Germanwings Flight 9525, killing 149 passengers and crew. French police said Friday that no remains have been found intact and that body parts have been collected from the crash site for identification at a laboratory near Paris.

Training Leave

Carsten Spohr, chief executive officer of Germanwings parent Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said on Thursday that Lubitz, who started his pilot training in 2008, took leave for “several months” at one point, declining to elaborate.

Lubitz’s flying license had a code on it that meant he needed special medical checks, Bild Zeitung reported. The Federal Office of Civil Aviation, which keeps the country’s register of licensed pilots, said Friday that it had handed relevant files on Lubitz to investigators and couldn’t provide any details about those documents.

Lubitz visited Dusseldorf University Hospital for diagnostic medical tests over the last two months, the hospital said Friday, denying a German media report that he was treated at the hospital for depression. The medical files are now being given to prosecutors.

All pilots are routinely reassessed and Lubitz was deemed fit to fly, Spohr said Thursday. Lubitz, who had also worked as a flight attendant for 11 months, had logged 630 flight hours.

Data Recorder

Investigators in France are trying to find the onboard data recorder to help confirm their suspicion that Lubitz steered the jet en route to Dusseldorf from Barcelona into a mountain. The findings from the voice recorder on the Airbus A320 suggest that the crash was deliberate rather than due to a technical fault. Recovering the data unit, the second half of the airliner’s so- called black boxes, is important because it tracks the changes made by the crew to the controls.

Lubitz studied at Lufthansa’s flight instruction school in Bremen, which was founded in 1956 and trains about 200 pilots a year. Students complete a major part of their practical training in the Arizona desert at a facility that “offers outstanding flying and weather conditions,” according to Lufthansa’s website.

Before accepting someone to its flight school, the airline conducts a two-day test that includes mathematics, physics, memory and medical checks. Those passing the first round are invited back for another two days of assessments during which psychologists do role plays with applicants to see how they perform under stress situations, according to past participants.

“There is a very heavy screening process,” John Cox, a former U.S. airline pilot who is president of Washington-based Safety Operating Systems, said of Lufthansa’s pilot training. “I’m going to guess that only 10 percent of the original applicants get through.”

--With assistance from Christopher Jasper in London, Andrea Rothman in Toulouse, Alan Levin in Washington, Sheenagh Matthews in Frankfurt and Steve Rhinds and Gregory Viscusi in Paris.

© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Germanwings co-pilot believed to have intentionally crashed a plane into the French Alps had a note from his doctor certifying him unfit to work on the day of the crash that he never passed on to his employer.
EU, France, Plane Crash
Friday, 27 March 2015 01:48 PM
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