Lubitz final confession: Germanwings co-pilot feared going blind, barely slept

Wreckage of the Airbus A320 is seen at the site of the crash, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps March 26, 2015. © Emmanuel Foudrot
Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot thought to have intentionally crashed a Germanwings plane with 150 passengers onboard almost a year ago, wrote to his physician just before the tragedy, saying he was losing his sight and suffering from insomnia.

The email, dated March 10, 2015, just two weeks before the crash, was published on Saturday by the German Bild tabloid - and is full of alarming revelations.

It appears that due to worsening eyesight, Lubitz was becoming depressed, and his attempts to figure out what was happening with his eyes were fruitless.

The University Hospital says there are no findings that can explain my altered vision. Unfortunately, since we began making tests, it’s been worsening and I’m not able to see clearly in bright light, which I think is further affected by stress and lack of sleep,” he reportedly said in his message.

The co-pilot wrote he had doubled the dosage of the anti-depressant prescribed to him, although he blamed the drug for the loss of sleep and panic attacks he experienced.

Because I am afraid of continuing to go blind and fixated on my eyes, my thoughts revolve constantly around this and the stress is increasing, which is why I cannot sleep on a regular basis.

Lubitz described his loss of vision as “white no longer seems white, and I need strong lighting to see at least something.” He kept coming back to sleep problems, saying his sleeping time had reduced to two hours and less. 

I know I need, despite the difficult situation, to achieve longer sleep and reduce stress,” he reportedly said.

If the problem with my eyes was solved, all would be well. There really isn’t anything else that bothers me,” Lubitz concluded.

Despite apparent suggestions from physicians to see a psychologist, Lubitz is revealed to have been against it, viewing their treatment as “incomplete and causing misunderstanding”. He was previously treated by psychologists in 2008-2009 for a major depressive episode. Five and a half years later, the doctor who treated him issued Lubitz a flying certificate, stating he was healthy.

The toxicological report, published by German media, says that during the March 24 flight Lubitz was on medication, with traces of sleeping pills and antidepressants found in his hair and body.

According to the report, one of the drugs found in Lubitz’s remains – Zolpidem – reduces concentration and driving ability, while two others – Citalopram and Mirtazapine – are prescribed when having suicidal thoughts, although health authorities in Dusseldorf state, “the risk of suicide may increase at the beginning of treatment [with these drugs].”

Over five years prior to the crash, Lubitz visited at least 41 different doctors, and many of them realized he was seriously mentally ill. Yet, apparently no one tried to stop the pilot, or to get in touch with the airline because of medical secrecy requirements. Lubitz’s medical case files, obtained by investigators from the doctor he visited last, prove that his disease was progressing.

The Germanwings Airbus A320, on course from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, crashed in a remote area of the French Alps on March 24, 2015. Data recorders found at the crash site suggested co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately directed the plane into the mountain after locking the pilot out of the cockpit.

Following the crash, investigators also discovered a ripped up doctor's note at Lubitz’s home, saying the co-pilot was unfit to work. His computer’s web history showed searches for cockpit doors and methods of committing suicide.