Crashed Germanwings Plane Co-Pilot Battled Depression, Media Reports Say

Search and rescue workers make their way through debris at the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps, above the town of Seyne-les-Alpes, southeastern France, 26 March 2015. EPA/BGNES

As airlines struggle to come to terms with the loss of 150 human lives in the crash of Germanwings plane in the French Alps, reports have started to emerge that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 28, had been battling mental health problems.

According to results from the initial investigation announced on Thursday, Lubitz, 28, had deliberately crasned the aircraft, putting it in a steep descent after locking the captain out of the cockpit.  

Carsten Spohr, chief executive of Lufthansa, on Thursday said Lubitz had taken a break from pilot training in 2008.

According to German newspaper Der Spiegel Lubitz had taken the break because of "burnout-syndrome", while another German newspaper, Bild, said Lubitz was going through a "personal life crisis".

Bild said Lubitz sought psychiatric help for "heavy depression" in 2009 and was still getting assistance from doctors, AFP reported. The newspaper also said Lubitz, 28, was receiving "regular private medical" treatment.

The revelation will form a central part of the investigation and raises questions as to why Lubitz was allowed to continue his training after the break and whether enough was done to prevent the crash. 

After analysing audio evidence from the recovered cockpit voice recorder, investigators are now focusing on the co-pilot's personal, family and professional environment in a bid to find out what might have forced Lubitz to block the captain's return to the cockpit and set the autopilot to plunge the Airbus A320 from its cruising altitude of 11,400 m to just 30 m to deliberately hit a mountain hillside.

The plane, en route from Barcelona in Spain to Duesseldorf in Germany crashed some 100 km north of Nice.

German police investigating the crash said late on Thursday...

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