FAA Had Its Doubts About Germanwings Pilot

Feds raised questions about his mental health
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2015 5:15 AM CDT
Updated Apr 30, 2015 6:53 AM CDT
FAA Had Its Doubts About Germanwings Pilot
A rescue helicopter flies over debris of the Germanwings passenger jet, scattered on the mountainside near Seyne les Alpes, French Alps, March 24, 2015.   (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

The Germanwings pilot believed to have killed himself and a planeload of people in a deliberate crash was trained in the US, but federal authorities almost nixed his flying career, according to records obtained by the New York Times and CNN. Documents released by the Federal Aviation Administration from between April 2008 and July 2010, when Andreas Lubitz was training in Arizona, show that he had trouble getting a student's pilot license after a 2009 episode of "reactive depression." He was told the FAA was "unable to establish your eligibility to hold an airman medical certification at this time," but the agency granted one weeks later after a doctor vouched for Lubitz, saying he had completed treatment and was "mentally stable."

The records show that for most of 2009, Lubitz was on leave from pilot training and was being treated with Cipralex and mirtazapine—a combination of antidepressants that a medical examiner who deals with pilots tells CNN could be a sign of a failure to "cope with either day-to-day work and/or home demands." When Lubitz's medical certificate was granted, he was told, "Because of your history of reactive depression, operation of aircraft is prohibited at any time new symptoms or adverse changes occur or any time medication and/or treatment is required." The Times notes that Lubitz may have tried to mislead the FAA at one point, answering "No" to a question about mental disorders in a form from 2010 before changing his answer to "Yes." (More Andreas Lubitz stories.)

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