Doctors at Lufthansa-the parent company of budget airline Germanwings-recommended that Andreas Lubitz be given psychological treatment even though he was still deemed fit to fly. Lubitz was the co-pilot responsible for deliberately crashing Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountainside in the French Alps on March 24, killing himself and 149 other people. Investigators say Lubitz locked the flight’s captain out of the cockpit before setting the plane on a destruction course.
It now appears that Lufthansa may face corporate manslaughter charges for allowing the suicidal co-pilot to continue flying. Information obtained from Germany’s aviation authority shows that doctors asked that Lubitz receive continued psychological treatment even though an independent expert deemed him fit to fly back in 2009. The UK Mirror reports that Lufthansa has opened itself up to criminal proceedings because a company psychologist allowed the suicidal co-pilot to continue flying.
Prior to the report, Lufthansa indicated that the airline was under no obligation to report Lubitz’s depression and mental health issues to Germany’s national aviation authority. A German newspaper quoted the Federal Aviation Office as saying that it was not informed of Lubitz’s previous depression diagnosis before the fatal crash.
According to the Daily Mail, investigators are currently looking into whether Lubitz spiked the drink of the plane’s captain, forcing him to have to leave the cockpit to use the restroom. Investigators believe that Lubitz may have added a chemical to Captain Patrick Sodenheimer’s coffee in order to remove him from the cockpit. After Captain Sodenheimer excused himself and closed the cockpit door, Lubitz used special security features to prevent the flight captain from reopening the reinforced door.
The security door became a cockpit safety feature in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Designers likely never imagined that a pilot would use this feature to lock himself in the cockpit and carry out such an atrocity.