Wednesday, April 29, 2015

FAA Temporarily Withheld Medical Certificate to Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz • U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cited a ‘history of reactive depression’

The Wall Street Journal
Updated April 30, 2015 12:22 p.m. ET

LONDON—The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration temporarily refused to issue a pilot medical certificate to Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot believed to have deliberately crashed a Germanwings jetliner last month, before reversing its decision.

The FAA in a July 8, 2010 letter declined to grant Mr. Lubitz a certificate, citing a “history of reactive depression.” It asked the German pilot to submit an updated report from his prescribing physician, or else it would formally deny the request, according to information the U.S. agency released in response to freedom of information requests.

In a subsequent letter dated July 28, 2010, the FAA granted the medical certificate and said “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.”

Mr. Lubitz is suspected of having intentionally crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps last month, killing all 150 people on board. The 27-year-old had been medically excused from working, but hid that fact from his employer.

Mr. Lubitz had temporarily interrupted his flight school training at the Lufthansa Flight Training School in Bremen. Once he was reinstated he went for live flight training at Lufthansa’s Airline Training Center Arizona in the Phoenix area.

The U.S. license application was not needed for Mr. Lubitz’s professional training in the U.S. but cleared him for private flying.

He joined Germanwings, a budget unit of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, in September 2013. The airline said it learned of the FAA correspondence only when the documents were publically released. Lufthansa previously said it hired Mr. Lubitz as it considered his prior problem resolved but in need of monitoring.

A personal physician in Germany cleared Mr. Lubitz as fit to fly after psychotherapy from January to October 2009, according to the FAA-released documents. Mr. Lubitz’s “high motivation and active participation contributed to the successful completion of the treatment, after the management of symptoms,” the physician, whose name has been redacted, wrote in a letter in February 2010.

Germany’s federal aviation office, the Luftfahrtbundesamt, or LBA, said it didn't receive any information from the FAA. The LBA previously said it had no information on Mr. Lubitz’s medical condition.

Mr. Lubitz was prescribed anti-depression drugs Cipralex and Mirtazapine. Those drugs caused a remission in Mr. Lubitz’s depression and he was considered “completely recovered,” according to a medical specialist in Germany. The depression was attributed to “modified living conditions,” the medical specialist wrote, without providing details.

Authorities said they would examine the process of pilot medical screening in the wake of the crash of the Airbus A320 jetliner.

Original article can be found here:

Airbus A320,   D-AIPX

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