A Germanwings co-pilot who flew a commercial jetliner into a French mountainside in March last year possibly exhibited psychotic behavior weeks before he killed himself and 149 others on board the plane he was commandeering.
According to a report released by a French investigative body on Sunday, a private doctor had recommended the 27-year-old co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, be admitted to a hospital for “symptoms suggesting a psychotic depressive episode.”
Lubitz worked for Lufthansa, the parent-company of the low-cost carrier Germanwings, when he took control of Airbus A320 Flight 9525, which was heading from Barcelona, Spain to Germany’s Dusseldorf Airport.
“The collision with the ground was due to the deliberate and planned action of the co-pilot who decided to commit suicide while alone in the cockpit,” the report said.
The report found Lubitz locked the plane’s captain out of the cockpit before redirecting the aircraft, lowering its elevation from a cruising speed of 35,000 feet to 100 feet, and ignoring urgent pleas of military and ground control officials.
A black box recording was thought to capture the plane’s captain attempting to break through the door before the crash.
With Lubitz’s mental health state at the center of the investigation, the report’s authors have called for an easing of privacy rights for German pilots.
Germanwings was not informed about the potential severity of his mental condition in the weeks leading up to the suicide.
Lubitz reportedly visited dozens of doctors over the months leading up to the incident, with one issuing him a sick note that could have kept him on the ground the day of the crash, the report disclosed.
German law protects patients’ privacy until their deaths.
“No action could have been taken by the authorities or his employer to prevent him from flying,” the French investigative unit said in a statement to the Associated Press.