Germanwings Pilot Initially Denied Medical Certificate Over Depression Concerns

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) initially denied Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz from receiving a medical certificate over concerns about his history with depression. The new information, released by the FAA after a Freedom of Information request, shows that the U.S. was aware of Lubitz’s psychiatric problems and sheds new light on a time in the young pilot’s life that has been widely reported as a red flag in terms of his fitness to fly.

Lubitz is believed to have flown Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountainside in the French Alps, killing himself and 149 other people. The media has long reported that the young pilot suffered from depression, even receiving psychotherapy and treatment for suicidal tendencies.

According to the FAA documents, Lubitz was treated with at least two drugs-Cipralex and Mirtazapine-between January of 2009 and October of the same year. At the time, he was on leave from Lufthansa’s flight training program, which normally takes about two years to complete.

Lubitz may have tried to hide his depression treatment from the FAA. In his application for a U.S. medical certificate, Lubitz initially marked ‘no’ to a question on whether or not he had ever been treated for a mental disorder. The file notes indicate that the mark eventually changed from ‘no’ to ‘yes.’

In a letter dated July 8, 2010, the F.A.A. wrote to Lubitz after receiving his application, saying it couldn’t establish his eligibility to hold an airman medical certification due to his history with depression. According to the New York Times, the agency asked for a current detailed status report from his doctor, which was later provided. The FAA eventually relented and allowed Lubitz to come to the U.S. and train, but warned that he wouldn’t be allowed to fly if his depression returned.