Newspaper headlines: Germanwings crash co-pilot 'ill, yet allowed to fly'

Papers continue to puzzle over the state of mind of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot believed to have brought down a Germanwings plane over the French Alps on Tuesday.

The Guardian is among those leading on the story, visiting a Burger King restaurant in Montabaur, western Germany, where the manager says Mr Lubitz was a "dependable" employee earning £290 a month before quitting to join Lufthansa. When the flyer had reappeared in 2009, the fast-food boss asked how things were going, to be told: "Too much stress. I'm going to take a break."

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According to the Daily Mirror, the discovery of torn-up sick notes signed by two separate doctors, covering the day the plane crashed, suggests Mr Lubitz "kept a deadly secret". It ventures: "He never told his superiors he had been deemed unfit to fly as he feared he would be stripped of his pilot's licence." The Times hears from psychologists who suggest Mr Lubitz may have thought about his actions beforehand. One says: "If he is a mass killer who has thought about doing this... he may have rehearsed it in his mind... even possibly practising on a home flight simulator."

Despite this, says the Daily Telegraph, the co-pilot "went on a spending spree and bought a pair of performance sports cars in the days before he caused one of the worst air disasters in living memory".

The Daily Express says the captain on Flight 4U 9525 used an axe from the plane's safety equipment to try to smash down the cockpit door locked from the inside by Mr Lubitz while his senior had gone to the toilet. The Daily Mail says he used a crowbar, as the axe would have been in the cockpit, but whatever the instrument his efforts were to no avail. This isn't the first case of a reinforced cabin door - installed to prevent hijackings - "keeping the good guys out", according to the Independent's Simon Calder. However, two previous incidents involving a "rogue pilot" may have been overlooked "because they both involved African airlines", he adds.

Meanwhile, the Guardian's Archie Bland hears from air crash investigators about how they must - in the words of one - "relive the last two minutes of someone else's life". Another tells him: "You have to divorce yourself from it and concentrate on the technical challenge."


Eye-catching headlines

  • "Restored Mustang sallies forth..." - a mechanic spent 28 years restoring a pre-production 1964 Ford Mustang - one of the UK's first - which is now worth £100,000, says the Daily Express
  • "The Muddle East crisis" - the Sun explains the "mind-blowing muddle" of Iran helping the UK and US fight Islamic State, while Britain and America support Saudi attacks on Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen
  • "Brass bonanza: doorknobs bought as scrap valued at £2m" - a man who bought 12-tonnes of brass fittings for £20,000 with a view to selling them as scrap realised many were antiques, says the Telegraph
  • "HurriKane" - the Mirror, and others, report the "whirlwind" start Spurs striker Harry Kane made to his England career by scoring after 79 seconds on the pitch

'Questions to ask'

After what seems like months of a phoney general election war, campaigning gets under way in earnest with contrasting pledges concerning the NHS.

The Telegraph reports David Cameron's promise to create a "truly seven-day" health service. "He will say today that a Conservative government would... ensure that millions of patients would be able to access all NHS services seven days a week by 2020." However, the Daily Mirror complains: "What a cheek for the Conservatives to repeat their unfulfilled 2010 promise of seven-day services when everyone can see the system has gone backwards on PM Cameron's watch."

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Instead, the paper focuses on Ed Miliband's promise that a Labour administration would place a 5% cap on profits for firms taking on clinical contracts for the NHS. However, the Daily Mail quotes a former Labour Health Minister Lord Warner saying the policy risks being a promise "which doesn't stand up when confronted with the reality of government... It's far from clear how you would implement it."

"There are plenty of questions to ask about these ideas," agrees the Guardian, adding: "But the politics should make people think about how they want the NHS to work. Many would agree with the implication that it's always wrong to make a profit out of public healthcare. Others would argue that as long as the NHS remains free at the point of need, it can be a useful way of bringing in innovation and expertise."

For the Daily Express, however, the day's big pledge is from Nigel Farage who unveils a UKIP promise to give workers a day off on St George's Day in England, and St David's Day in Wales, to match public holidays to mark patron saints' days in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, the Telegraph spots Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander in an Inverness bar, sipping a cocktail named after the Muppet, Beaker, to whom the chief secretary to the Treasury has been - somewhat uncharitably - likened by his party leader.


'Solo album'

One Direction fans left distraught at the departure of Zayn Malik from the boyband need not fear, reports the Sun: the singer will have a solo album out early next year - hot on the heels of his bandmates fifth record. The paper's Dan Wootton reports that as part of the deal that allowed Malik to walk out on the band before the end of their contract, he was signed up to Simon Cowell's label, so the music mogul could co-ordinate their releases.

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Meanwhile, ex-East 17 star Tony Mortimer tells the Mirror he hopes Malik doesn't follow his lead by ending up "drinking wine - four or five bottles a night" while feeling there's "no reason to get up" or do anything but play video games. Mortimer warns that his junior might find his wish of a "normal life" difficult to achieve. "The fans were still outside the house. All that will stop is his schedule. For me, the only way around the fans was to stay inside. And it was also a way around that question, 'what are you up to now?' Answer, 'Nothing'."

Also in the Mirror, Fiona Phillips likens her teenage distress on reading that Bay City Rolller Les McKeown had knocked down and killed a 76-year-old woman in his car to the "unhinged" response to Malik's departure from 1D fans on Twitter. "They'll grow up, get over it and when, in time, One Direction reunite - like Take That, Boyzone, Blue, Backstreet Boys, 5ive, McFly, Busted et al before them - their fans will regard them with fondness rather than this hormone-fuelled madness."

Janice Turner, in the Times, views David Cassidy - "undone, driven to alcoholism and bad marriages by the feeling he was never enough" - as the template of every other teen hero. She writes: "The love affair between the teenage girl and her male crush always ends badly. And the one who may never get over it is often the handsome, screwed-up millionaire."


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