Suicidal Germanwings co-pilot Lubitz was referred to psychiatric clinic 2 weeks before crash

Wreckage of the Airbus A320 is seen at the site of the crash, near Seyne-les-Alpes, french Alps March 26, 2015 © Emmanuel Foudrot
Medical staff should report on pilots whose mental health may present a threat to public safety, French investigators said, after learning that doctors had failed to flag a suicidal pilot who presumably intentionally crashed a Germanwings plane last year.

Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of a Germanwings plane that crashed on March 24, 2015, was advised to undergo treatment at a psychiatric hospital just two weeks before the disaster occurred, the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for civil aviation safety (BEA) says in a report published on Sunday. 

Lubitz had been prescribed powerful antidepressants and sleeping pills. He had also received a “referral for psychiatric hospital treatment due to a possible psychosis” on March 10, 2015, the BEA report says.

None of the doctors brought Lubitz’s condition to attention of the authorities, however, even though it had the potential to impair his ability to work and even pose a threat to passenger’s safety. Fear of falling afoul of Germany’s strict privacy law was cited in the report as a possible explanation for such negligence on the part of physicians.

The French investigators called on the World Health Organization and European Commission to lay down a set of rules that would oblige health professionals to inform authorities about patients whose condition may be dangerous to other people – even without the patient’s consent.

“The reluctance of pilots to declare their problems and seek medical assistance... needs to be addressed,” the report stresses.

Pilots with a history of psychiatric disorder should undergo stricter check-ups, it also suggests.

“In Germany and in France, doctors are very attached to this notion of medical secrecy, but I hope there will be some moves there,” BEA Director Remi Jouty told a news conference, according to Reuters.

Over the five years prior to the crash, Lubitz had visited more than 40 different doctors, many of whom realized that he had a serious mental disorder, yet nothing was done. Lubitz’s illness had been progressing over time, the medical case files obtained after the tragedy showed.

Lubitz is believed to have intentionally crashed his Germanwings Airbus A320, which was en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, in the French Alps last year, resulting in the deaths of all 150 people on board.