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 Mr 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.
If Mr 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.
The black box voice recorder indicates that Mr 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.
German prosecutors say they found medical documents at Mr 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”.
She said he was plagued by nightmares and would at times wake up screaming “we’re going down”.
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 Mr Lubitz had holidayed with his parents at a flying club nearby.
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
A hospital in the German city of Duesseldorf has confirmed Mr Lubitz was a patient there recently but it denied media reports that he had been treated for depression.
The theory that a mental illness such as depression had affected the co-pilot was suggested by German media, quoting internal aviation authority documents.
They said he had suffered a serious depressive episode while training in 2009.
He reportedly went on to receive treatment for a year-and-a-half and was recommended regular psychological assessment.
Mr Lubitz’s employers insisted that he had only been allowed to resume training after his suitability was “re-established”.
French police say the search for passenger remains and debris on the mountain slopes could take another two weeks.
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.
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