Andreas Lubitz is the Germanwings pilot responsible for the deaths of 151 people and himself on March 24, and officials recently confirmed that the co-pilot hid illness from his employers. According to CNN, Lubitz had received a physician’s note deeming him “unfit to work” that applied to the day he intentionally crashed the airplane.
When Germanwings was asked about the physician’s statement, the company denied receiving the information. Officials agree that the company probably wasn’t aware of an existing medical condition, as the note was found torn in Lubitz’s garbage. Details of Lubitz’s condition were not publicly released, but sources close to the situation indicate the pilot was under medical treatment for some time.
Following the tragedy, Lufthansa amended its flight requirements to specify that only pilots with a clean bill of health will be able operate an aircraft with a minimum of two pilots per flight — a decision motivated by the fact that the Germanwings’ co-pilot hid illness from the company, the brand’s choice to change protocol was made in an effort to prevent similar incidents in the future.
As Inquisitr previously reported, Lubitz waited until his co-pilot left to use the restroom. Then, he locked the cockpit’s access door to prevent interruption while he adjusted the altitude settings. Despite co-pilot Patrick Sonderheimer’s attempts to intercede, Lubitz managed to take the plane into a nosedive before hitting land. Although the story continues to develop, Lubitz’s history of illness and reported inability to function safely at work was a factor in his decision to crash the plane.
Lubitz isn’t the first pilot to display unusual in-flight behavior. Earlier this year, AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed into the ocean after the captain left the cabin briefly. The co-pilot subsequently cut power to the aircraft without apparent cause, which was seen as unnecessary by investigators. As the number of aircraft fatalities rises, airline executives are giving more attention to the health statuses of pilots.
Per the Air Line Pilot Association, a pilot’s working conditions can be strenuous at times, particularly for those with existing health issues. Between interrupted sleep patterns and irregular shifts, pilots are susceptible to sleep deprivation, which contributes to everything from irritability to psychosis.
Since discovering that Germanwings’ co-pilot hid illness from the company, aviation professionals around the world can expect employers to become proactive about confirming the health status of active duty pilots.