Extraordinary details are emerging about the condition and situation of Andreas Lubitz, the 27-year-old co-pilot that apparently caused the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, killing all 150 people on board.
According to today’s New York Times, Lubitz had sought medical help for impaired vision. The type of vision impairment, cause, and extent is not known. The European Aviation Safety Agency said that all pilots undergo an annual physical that does include an eye exam.
German authorities investigating the crash have confirmed that they believe Andreas Lubitz was “hiding an illness” and had recently been determined as “unfit to work” by a doctor.
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources that described Lubitz as having a psychiatric illness. That remains unconfirmed, and this recent detail would indicate that he did, in fact, have a physical condition that might have affected his behavior on the day of the crash.
According to a Dusseldorf clinic, Andreas Lubitz recently sought medical help there that had nothing to do with psychiatric depression.
Despite the many reports and belief that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had hidden his medical condition from his employers, quite the opposite is true. Lubitz’s pilot’s license clearly indicated that he had a medical condition, and he did pass his mandated annual physical.
Andreas Lubitz’s pilot training has come under scrutiny. He began pilot training with the German company Lufthansa in 2008 in Germany and then trained at the U.S. Airline Training Center in Arizona, an American Lufthansa affiliate. The German publication, Bild, cites internal documents forwarded to them by Lufthansa claiming that Andreas Lubitz spent no less than 18 months being treated for a psychiatric condition during a break from his pilot training in 2009, presumably on his return to Germany after his stay in Arizona.
The Lufthansa Arizona flight training school is now receiving email death threats for training Andreas Lubitz.
In his recent holiday mass, Pope Francis said prayers and offered condolences to all those in grief about this tragic disaster. A prayer vigil is in progress near the crash area. The Airbus A320 landed in a remote part of the French Alps that is difficult to access.
Germanwings has set up a family assistance center near the crash site as recovery efforts continue, and they are arranging flight for relatives of the victims to Marseille.
“Our focus in these darkest hours is to provide psychological assistance to the families and friends of the victims.”
CNN has attempted to reconstruct the final moments of the flight using cockpit voice recording and other evidence. It is clear from the voice recording that Andreas Lubitz was non-responsive, but breathing as the plane began its fatal decent.
Aviation standards are already changing in response to this tragedy. The European Aviation Safety Agency now recommends that two crew members be in the cockpit at all times.