The 28-year-old German co-pilot who intentionally flew a Germanwings jet into the French Alps last month had been temporarily denied an American pilot's license in 2010 based on his "history of reactive depression," The Wall Street Journal reports
Recently released documents by the Federal Aviation Administration show that between January and October 2009, Andreas Lubitz received psychotherapy and was prescribed at least two anti-depressants, Cipralex and Mirtazapine.
During that time, according to The New York Times
, Lubitz was on leave from Lufthansa's pilot-training school, part of which takes place outside Phoenix. Lufthansa owns Germanwings, a discount airline.
In order to participate in the training in Arizona, Lubitz needed a student pilot's license and a valid medical certificate from a flight doctor.
Citing Lubitz's history of reactive depression, the FAA on July 8, 2010, notified the German pilot in a letter that his application was being denied. The agency asked him to submit an updated report from his prescribing physician, the Journal reports.
Lubitz's doctor wrote two letters — one to Lubitz, the other to an airline medical examiner, according to CNN
— showing Lubitz had successfully completed treatment.
The letter to the airline official states "considerable remission has been obtained" and "medication has been tapered," and described Lubitz as "mentally stable" and "without memory disorders and phobias," CNN reported.
Some three weeks later, the FAA granted Lubitz a medical certificate with a caveat that he would be prohibited from operating an aircraft "at any time new symptoms or adverse changes occur or any time medication and/or treatment is required."
In February 2010, a German doctor had cleared Lubitz to fly, noting his "high motivation and active participation contributed to the successful completion of the treatment, after the management of symptoms," according to a letter.
The doctor's name was redacted in a copy of the letter released to news organizations in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.
According to the Times, Lubitz had a clean bill of health when he was accepted into Lufthansa's "highly selective flight academy" in 2008.
Within six months he had suffered an episode of "reactive depression" — a disorder "triggered by stressful or traumatic events," which reportedly occurred when he moved to Lufthansa's flight school campus in Bremen, Germany, from his parents' home in the small town of Montabaur, according to the Times.
He underwent psychotherapy and began taking antidepressants in 2009, though by July of that year his medication had been "tapered."
Jacqueline Brunetti, a medical examiner for commercial pilots, told CNN that reactive depression can resolve itself when the individual recovers from an overwhelming event.
"The use of two drugs would suggest that maybe a single drug was not sufficiently effective," she said, adding that "pairing anti-depressants could indicate an inability to cope with either day to day work and/or home demands."
During a March 24 flight from Spain to Germany, Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit and deliberately steered the Airbus A320-200 into the mountainside, killing all 150 people on board.
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