Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Lufthansa Knew Pilots Depression in 2009.

The Lufthansa co-pilot at the controls of the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps last week informed his bosses in 2009 that he had suffered from severe depression, says the airline this week.

Lufthansa advised on Tuesday that a search of their records found an email showing that first officer Andreas Lubitz, had informed the company of his condition as he was seeking to rejoin its training program after an absence of several months. 

According to the airline groups statement, Lubitz had sent its flight training school the email that had included medical documents describing a “previous episode of severe depression.” 

Lufthansa, the parent company of the budget carrier Germanwings, said it had now turned the information over to the German prosecutor investigating the crash, in which Mr. Lubitz and the other 149 people on board the died. It has been the first acknowledgment by Lufthansa that it knew of Mr. Lubitz’s mental health issues before the crash. For many in and out the industry, it will raise questions on why the company with as strong safety ethos allowed Lubitz to complete his training and become a pilot for the airline. 

Prosecutors in Germany said Monday that he had been treated for suicidal tendencies but did not say when, and Lufthansa’s statement did not address when Lubitz’s depression had occurred, what treatment he might have received or what, if any, follow-up there was for Lubitz by the airline. 

Police investigators had searched Lubitz’s apartment in Düsseldorf on Thursday and found doctors’ notes saying that Lubitz was too sick to work, including on the day of the crash. One had been torn up and thrown into the rubbish, leading investigators to conclude that he was hiding his medical problems from the airline. 

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