Pilot having ‘psychotic episode’ crashed plane into mountain killing 150 people

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A pilot who suffered a psychotic episode just a few days before he was scheduled to fly ended up crashing a plane into a mountain, killing everyone on board.

Andreas Lubitz, 27, locked himself in the cockpit of Germanwings Flight 9525 on March 24, 2015, and set the plane's autopilot feature with the aim of crashing the jet into the French Alps at 31,000ft.

Once the captain had left the cockpit to go to the toilet, Lubitz locked the cockpit door and proceeded with his plan of a controlled descent into the mountainside.

All 150 people on board the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf – including passengers and crew – were killed instantly on that fateful day seven years ago.

Investigations following the tragic incident revealed that physicians advised Lubitz to seek urgent treatment but were not allowed to alert authorities because of Germany’s strict privacy laws.

Under German law, employers do not have access to employees' medical records, and sick notes excusing people from work do not give information about medical conditions, so employers must rely on employees to declare their lack of work fitness.

The investigation into Lubitz found he had been treated for suicidal tendencies prior to his training as a commercial pilot and had been temporarily denied a US pilot's license because of these treatments for psychotic depression.

For years, Lubitz had frequently been unable to sleep because of what he believed were vision problems, consulting over 40 doctors out of fear that he was going blind.

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Motivated by the fear that blindness would cause him to lose his pilot's licence, he began conducting online research about methods of committing suicide before deciding to crash Flight 9525.

Criminal investigators said Lubitz's web searches on his tablet computer in the days leading up to the crash included "ways to commit suicide" and "cockpit doors and their security provisions".

Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) investigator Arnaud Desjardin argued that such secrecy should consider public safety first and foremost, as one phone call from the doctor to airline Germanwings or medical authorities would have grounded Lubitz and saved all those lives.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

  • Plane Crash

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