29 Mar 2015

Alps co-pilot predicted notoriety

9:12 am on 29 March 2015

The Germanwings co-pilot thought to have deliberately crashed his Airbus in the French Alps, killing 150 people, predicted "one day everyone will know my name", his ex-girlfriend says.

A photo of Andreas Lubitz taken from his Facebook page.

A photo of Andreas Lubitz taken from his Facebook page. Photo: Facebook

In an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper, she recalled a comment Andreas Lubitz made last year.

"One day I'm going to do something that will change the whole system, and everyone will know my name and remember," he told her.

Flight 4U 9525 crashed on Tuesday.

The woman, a 26-year-old flight attendant who flew with Lubitz for five months last year, was "very shocked" when she heard the news, the paper says.

She is referred to only as Maria W.

If Lubitz deliberately brought down the plane, "it is because he understood that because of his health problems, his big dream of a job at Lufthansa, as captain and as a long-haul pilot was practically impossible," she told Bild.

Investigators at the Andreas Lubitz's home in Montabaur, southwestern Germany

Investigators at the Andreas Lubitz's home in Montabaur, southwestern Germany Photo: AFP

Meanwhile, German newspaper Die Welt said that investigators had found evidence of a serious "psychosomatic illness", and that Lubitz had been "treated by several neurologists and psychiatrists".

Several medicines used to treat mental illnesses were found at his home, but there were no signs of drug or alcohol addiction, the newspaper, citing an unnamed investigator, said.

Separately, the New York Times, citing officials, reported that Lubitz had sought treatment for eye problems.

'Too much pressure'

French investigator Jean-Pierre Michel also told the AFP news agency that the pilot's personality was "a serious lead [in the investigation] but... can't be the only one".

"We're going to try to understand what in his life could have left him to carry out the act," Mr Michel said, adding that investigators had not discovered any "particular element" so far.

The black box voice recorder indicates that Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit on Tuesday and crashed the plane into a mountainside in what appears to have been a suicide and mass killing.

A handout picture made available by Thomas Koehler on 24 March 2015 shows wreckage and small debris lying on the mountainside after the crash of an Airbus A320.

Wreckage and small debris lying on the mountainside after the crash in the French Alps. Photo: AFP

German prosecutors say they found medical documents at Lubitz's house suggesting an existing illness and evidence of medical treatment. They found torn-up sick notes, one of them for the day of the crash.

They say he seems to have concealed his illness from his employers.

His former girlfriend told Bild they separated, "because it became increasingly clear that he had a problem".

She said he was plagued by nightmares and would at times wake up screaming "we're going down".

She added that he became stressed when they spoke about work: "He became upset about the conditions we worked under: too little money, fear of losing the contract, too much pressure."

A hospital in the German city of Duesseldorf has confirmed Lubitz was a patient there recently but it denied media reports that he had been treated for depression.

Lubitz's employers insisted that he had only been allowed to resume training after his suitability was "re-established".

Lubitz's health timeline

  • 2009: Breaks off pilot training while still in his early twenties after suffering "depressions and anxiety attacks", the German tabloid Bild reports, quoting Lufthansa medical files. Resumes training after 18 months of treatment, according to Bild
  • 2013: Qualifies "with flying colours" as pilot, according to Lufthansa
  • 2013-2015: Medical file quoted by Bild marks him as requiring "specific regular medical examination" but no details are given
  • February 2015: Undergoes diagnosis at Duesseldorf University Clinic for an unspecified illness; clinic has clarified the illness was not depression
  • 10 March 2015: Again attends Duesseldorf University Clinic
  • 24 March 2015:Is believed to have deliberately crashed airliner, killing himself and 149 others
  • 26 March 2015: Prosecutors announce that two sick notes have been found torn up at his addresses in Germany

'Unfathomable loss'

A fellow member of the flight school where Andreas Lubitz took lessons told the BBC the co-pilot had known the area of the French Alps where the plane crashed from going there on gliding holidays.

A French newspaper, Metro News, reported (in French) that Lubitz had holidayed with his parents at a flying club nearby.

French police say the search for passenger remains and debris on the mountain slopes could take another two weeks.

Relatives of the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash victims arrive in Seyne-les-Alpes on 26 March, two days after the Germanwings Airbus A320 smashed into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.

Relatives of the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash victims arrive in Seyne-les-Alpes on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Relatives of some of the passengers and crew who died, including the family of the captain, have visited Seyne-les-Alpes, near the crash site.

In the aftermath of the crash, the EU's aviation regulator, the European Aviation Safety Agency, has urged airlines to adopt new safety rules.

In future, it says, two crew members should be present in the cockpit at all times.

Lufthansa and Germanwings have taken out full-page notices in German newspapers, expressing their "deepest sympathy" and condolences for "the unfathomable loss of 150 lives".

- BBC

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