Alps Germanwings crash co-pilot Lubitz 'made prediction'

image copyrightAFP
image captionThe German tabloid Bild carried an interview with the ex-girlfriend of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz (pictured)

The Germanwings co-pilot thought to have deliberately crashed his Airbus in the French Alps, killing 150 people, predicted "one day everyone will know my name", his ex-girlfriend says.

In an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper, she recalled a comment Andreas Lubitz made last year.

"One day I'm going to do something that will change the whole system, and everyone will know my name and remember," he told her.

Flight 4U 9525 crashed on Tuesday.

The woman, a 26-year-old flight attendant who flew with Lubitz for five months last year, was "very shocked" when she heard the news, the paper says.

She is referred to only as Maria W.

image copyrightAP
image captionMemorial services for those onboard flight 4U 9525 have been taking place in Germany and in Spain

If Lubitz deliberately brought down the plane, "it is because he understood that because of his health problems, his big dream of a job at Lufthansa, as captain and as a long-haul pilot was practically impossible," she told Bild.

Meanwhile, German newspaper Die Welt said that investigators had found evidence of a serious "psychosomatic illness", and that Lubitz had been "treated by several neurologists and psychiatrists".

Several medicines used to treat mental illnesses were found at his home, but there were no signs of drug or alcohol addiction, the newspaper, citing an unnamed investigator, said.

Separately, the New York Times, citing officials, reported that Lubitz had sought treatment for eye problems.

'Too much pressure'

French investigator Jean-Pierre Michel also told the AFP news agency that the pilot's personality was "a serious lead [in the investigation] but... can't be the only one".

"We're going to try to understand what in his life could have left him to carry out the act," Mr Michel said, adding that investigators had not discovered any "particular element" so far.

The black box voice recorder indicates that Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit on Tuesday and crashed the plane into a mountainside in what appears to have been a suicide and mass killing.

image copyrightAFP
image captionLufthansa and Germanwings took out full-page condolence notices in German newspapers

German prosecutors say they found medical documents at Lubitz's house suggesting an existing illness and evidence of medical treatment. They found torn-up sick notes, one of them for the day of the crash.

They say he seems to have concealed his illness from his employers.

His former girlfriend told Bild they separated, "because it became increasingly clear that he had a problem".

media captionEx-girlfriend: "He sometimes tended to be aggressive"

She said he was plagued by nightmares and would at times wake up screaming "we're going down".

She added that he became stressed when they spoke about work: "He became upset about the conditions we worked under: too little money, fear of losing the contract, too much pressure."

A hospital in the German city of Duesseldorf has confirmed Lubitz was a patient there recently but it denied media reports that he had been treated for depression.

Lubitz's employers insisted that he had only been allowed to resume training after his suitability was "re-established".

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionAndreas Lubitz running a half-marathon in Frankfurt in March 2010

Lubitz's health timeline

  • 2009: Breaks off pilot training while still in his early twenties after suffering "depressions and anxiety attacks", the German tabloid Bild reports, quoting Lufthansa medical files. Resumes training after 18 months of treatment, according to Bild
  • 2013: Qualifies "with flying colours" as pilot, according to Lufthansa
  • 2013-2015: Medical file quoted by Bild marks him as requiring "specific regular medical examination" but no details are given
  • February 2015: Undergoes diagnosis at Duesseldorf University Clinic for an unspecified illness; clinic has clarified the illness was not depression
  • 10 March 2015: Again attends Duesseldorf University Clinic
  • 24 March 2015:Is believed to have deliberately crashed airliner, killing himself and 149 others
  • 26 March 2015: Prosecutors announce that two sick notes have been found torn up at his addresses in Germany

'Unfathomable loss'

A fellow member of the flight school where Andreas Lubitz took lessons told the BBC the co-pilot had known the area of the French Alps where the plane crashed from going there on gliding holidays.

A French newspaper, Metro News, reported (in French) that Lubitz had holidayed with his parents at a flying club nearby.

French police say the search for passenger remains and debris on the mountain slopes could take another two weeks.

media captionRelatives have been visiting the site of the Alps plane crash

Relatives of some of the passengers and crew who died, including the family of the captain, have visited Seyne-les-Alpes, near the crash site.

In the aftermath of the crash, the EU's aviation regulator, the European Aviation Safety Agency, has urged airlines to adopt new safety rules.

In future, it says, two crew members should be present in the cockpit at all times.

Lufthansa and Germanwings have taken out full-page notices in German newspapers, expressing their "deepest sympathy" and condolences for "the unfathomable loss of 150 lives".

What is depression?

Depression is more than just feeling a bit down for a few days. It is an illness which, at its most severe, can leave people feeling that life is no longer worth living. It can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, sleeplessness and constant tiredness which may last for months and months.

People with depression can also feel anxious, irritable and agitated on a daily basis but it affects everyone differently and only in rare cases is it a reason for violence against others.

If people admit their symptoms and talk to someone about their feelings, depression can usually be treated but the biggest barrier to getting help is often stigma and the fear of disclosing mental health problems.

Other incidents thought to be caused by deliberate pilot action

  • 29 November 2013: A flight between Mozambique and Angola crashed in Namibia, killing 33 people. Initial investigation results suggested the accident was deliberately carried out by the captain shortly after the first officer (also known as the co-pilot) had left the flight deck.
  • 31 October 1999: An EgyptAir Boeing 767 went into a rapid descent 30 minutes after taking off from New York, killing 217 people. An investigation suggested that the crash was caused deliberately by the relief first officer but the evidence was not conclusive.
  • 19 December 1997: More than 100 people were killed when a Boeing 737 travelling from Indonesia to Singapore crashed. The pilot - suffering from "multiple work-related difficulties" - was suspected of switching off the flight recorders and intentionally putting the plane into a dive.

Source: Aviation Safety Network

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