For a 27-year-old pilot, Andreas Lubitz was seeing an “amazing” number of doctors–which, if it was properly reported to his employers in time, he may not have set foot in a cockpit ever again.
Lubitz, the co-pilot on the Germanwings plane that crashed last month, was seeing at least five different doctors, including a neurologist and psychiatric specialists, said a report from German magazine Der Spiegel. The magazine cited a leaked medical report about his medical condition.
“For a young man, he consulted an amazing number of doctors,” an investigator told the publication.
At least five different medical practices handed over their information about Lubitz to German investigators, the report said.
A doctor said Lubitz could be excused from work on the day of the disaster, but according to investigators, there were ripped up letters found at his home, which suggested he was hiding his illness from his employers. The state prosecutor for Dusseldorf hasn’t officially confirmed what medical problems he had.
Information obtained from the plane’s black boxes suggests Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit before slamming the plane into the French Alps two weeks ago. The crash killed all 150 people on board.
There’s been speculation Lubitz was fearful of losing his pilot’s license because of eyesight problems based on Internet searches he had made prior to the crash. He reportedly spent time researching suicide methods and cockpit door security.
According to German publication Bild, Lubitz–using the name “Skydevil”–searched for information about “migraines,” “bipolarity,” “manic depression,” and “impaired vision.” This information was found after investigators searched a tablet computer found at his home.
The Luftfahrtbundesamt, Germany’s aviation authority that issues pilots’ licenses, said in a statement it had “no information at all” about Lubitz’s medical history, Bild reported. In 2009, Lubitz broke off his flight training, with doctors noting that he was depressed with “suicidal tendencies,” which Germanwings parent company Lufthansa confirmed days after the crash.
A second black box, which contains the flight data, was found last week, and it shows Lubitz sped up the plane’s descent before it crashed into a mountain.
Meanwhile, Germany’s airlines swiftly mandated that two people have to remain in the cockpit at all times, while politicians debated the need to relax patient privacy rules – prompting a swift rebuke from medical associations who warned that rash changes to the rules could undermine patients’ confidence in doctors and prevent them from seeking help, doing greater harm than good.
“Who could have known that he was determined to destroy himself on that day?” said Mercedes Valle, a 54-year-old doctor in Madrid. She added that the content of the black box had confirmed “there was a deranged person with suicidal tendencies left in charge of a plane.”
“In the past I’ve seen the impact such a person can have at the wheel of a school bus or even a car. Fortunately, it’s a very rare occurrence,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.