Reports are starting to emerge concerning the mental state of the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, in the days and weeks that preceded his intentional crashing of Germanwings 9525. I’ve been in Frankfurt for the last few days and have been watching and reading the local media and trying to make sense of the findings.
What I’m seeing:
-Lubitz had gone to a medical clinic in Dusseldorf 2 weeks ago at which point he was given a medical note concerning a diagnosis. Apparently this diagnosis was severe enough that it would give him a medical reason to not fly as a pilot.
-There is the suggestion that a personal relationship may have soured recently. Apparently he had also bought 2 vehicles a few weeks ago but details surrounding the transaction remain unclear. It is unknown for whom the vehicles were for, though he did take delivery of one of them recently.
-Documents dating as far back as 2009 demonstrated that he underwent serious episodes of depression at which point he took a sabbatical from the cockpit and was receiving treatment for 18 months. After completing his treatment, he re-qualified as a pilot by completing all of the required qualifying exams and certifications.
-Media outlets have been interviewing those that were close to Lubitz. In one instance a former girlfriend (referred to by the media as Mary W.) indicated that he suggested to her that ‘One day I will do something that will change the whole system, and then all will know my name and remember it’. She had also suggested that he was suffering from ‘Burnout Syndrome’.
Tragically, the details behind his motivation are becoming very clear. Kudos to the investigators for being able to piece together such a complicated scenario in such short order which is hopefully allowing friends and family to begin the healing process.
Investigators today revealed that they discovered a torn-up medical note among the personal items of Andreas Lubitz. The contents of the note included instructions for Lubitz to stay home from work on the day that he crashed Germanwings flight 9525 into the French Alps.
The specific details of the note, including the exact medical condition, has yet to be revealed by investigators. It was also revealed today that Lubitz had a medical condition that he disclosed and is reflected on his pilots license and paperwork on file with Lufthansa. Investigators did not say if the illness stated in the note was related to the potential pre-existing condition.
Additionally, investigators said they have not found any suicide notes, manifestos, ties to religious extremism, or claim of responsibility.
Out of all of the possible scenarios that could have downed Germanwings flight 9525, what was revealed today by investigators and prosecutors was absolutely shocking.
According to French prosecutors, it has been determined that the Co-Pilot, Andreas Lubitz, intentionally crashed the aircraft after the Pilot, Patrick Sonderheimer stepped out of the cockpit to use the lavatory. Apparently Lubitz disabled the cockpit door’s lock which prevented the Pilot from getting back into the cockpit. The Cockpit voice recorder (CVR) confirmed many of these details.
According to investigators, the CVR capture the exchange between pilot and co-pilot prior to the pilot leaving the cockpit. Based on the transcript it appears that the co-pilot became more brief and succinct in the responses he was giving to the pilot during their conversations just before the pilot left the cockpit. Investigators called this an unusual behavior by the co-pilot and not normal for cockpit communication between pilots.
Investigators are now focusing on the background of the co-pilot, investigating is recent activity and whereabouts as they try to piece together what the motivation would have been for this unfathomable tragedy.
For those of you who have missed the recent breaking developments, it appears that the Cockpit Voice Recorder has been investigated and preliminary results are available.
According to a wide variety of trustworthy sources, it appears that the CVR has captured a shocking scenario aboard the aircraft.
It appears that one of the pilots was not in the cockpit at the time that flight 9525 began its unexpected descent. The recording captures one of the pilots knocking on the cockpit door, looking to gain access. The knocking goes unanswered as the plane began its descent.
The recording reflects the pilot increasing his sense of urgency as his knocking and voice increase in volume to the point that you can hear him trying to break down the door to get to the cockpit.
Experts have not supported the idea that this was an intentional act since the descent was steady and controlled. They cited that past incidents that were ruled as suicides, had the planes nose over and enter deep and unrecoverable descents. Also thought to be unlikely is the fact that the cockpit had depressurized. Experts suggest that the entire aircraft would have depressurized and there is no evidence to support that scenario.
In a scenario such as this we may never know if the pilot in cockpit was in conscious control of the aircraft or if a medical condition rendered the pilot in the cockpit unable to respond to the aircraft or to the pilot trying to get into the cockpit.
This was not a scenario that I even remotely had entertained.
The latest update involving the Black Boxes is as follows:
The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) has been retrieved, however investigators say they have not been able to retrieve the contents of the recorder as of yet. I’m not sure if this is because of any damage or if the process simply takes time. Investigators remain optimistic that they will be able to resolve the issue with the CVR and will extract the recordings shortly.
The Flight Data Recorder (FDR) has been retrieved, however it appears to be extensively damaged and the memory card that is normally in the recorder is missing and the belief is that it was dislodged due to the impact.
Other than the update on the ‘Black Boxes’ there has not been much else that has come from the investigators who are now scouring the scene.
I’ll continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.