Unfit to Work: Germanwings Co-Pilot Hid Illness

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PARIS – Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was hiding an illness from his employers and had been declared unfit to work by a doctor, according to German authorities investigating what could have prompted the seemingly competent and stable pilot to steer his jetliner into a French mountain.

Investigators found a letter saying that Lubitz, 27, wasn’t fit to do his job in the waste bin of his Dusseldorf, Germany, apartment, city prosecutor Christoph Kumpa said Friday. The note, Kumpa said, had been “slashed.”

Just what was ailing Lubitz hasn’t been revealed. A Dusseldorf clinic said he’d gone there twice, most recently two weeks ago, “concerning a diagnosis.” But the University Clinic said it had not treated Lubitz for depression, as some media reports have indicated.

German investigators said they still have interviews and other work to do before they’ll be able to reveal just what they found in the records in Lubitz’s apartment in a quiet, suburban neighborhood.

They found no goodbye note or confession, authorities said.

But the fact that investigators found “ripped, recent medical leave notes, including for the day of the offense, leads to the preliminary conclusion that the deceased kept his illness secret from his employer and his professional environment,” prosecutors said.

According to authorities in Germany and France, Lubitz was a co-pilot on Germanwings Flight 9525 between Barcelona, Spain, and Dusseldorf on Tuesday when he apparently locked the captain out of the cockpit, then activated a control causing the plane to descend toward rugged terrain.

Germanwings said the plane dropped for about eight minutes from its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet before crashing.

The only sounds, authorities said, were those of pounding on the cockpit door, Lubitz’s steady breathing and, eventually, screaming passengers.

Lubitz and 149 other people on board the plane died in an instant, authorities say.