TIME Aviation

Germanwings Co-Pilot Was Treated for Suicidal Tendencies

Investigators have found no indication of a motive in the crash that killed 150 people

(MARSEILLE, France)—German prosecutors say the co-pilot of the Germanwings passenger plane that crashed in the French Alps had received treatment for suicidal tendencies.

Duesseldorf prosecutors say that Andreas Lubitz received psychotherapy “with a note about suicidal tendencies” for several years before becoming a pilot.

Prosecutors’ spokesman Ralf Herrenbrueck said Monday that investigators have found no indication of a motive so far as to why Lubitz crashed the plane, nor any sign of a physical illness.

All 150 people on board died in the crash.

TIME

JetBlue Systems Back Online After Major Outage

Passengers exit a JetBlue Airways Corp. plane at Long Beach Airport (LGB) in Long Beach, California, U.S., on Monday, July 22, 2013.
Bloomberg&Bloomberg — Getty Images Passengers exit a JetBlue Airways Corp. plane at Long Beach Airport (LGB) in Long Beach, California, U.S., on Monday, July 22, 2013.

JetBlue said the outage was not due to a cyber attack

JetBlue Airways Corp’s systems are back online after a computer system outage caused check-in delays at several U.S. airports on Monday.

The outage was not due to a cyber attack, JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said in an email to Reuters.

“The issue was resolved at approximately 6:15 a.m. Eastern Time,” McGraw said “We are working to resume normal operations now.”

McGraw did not provide details on what exactly what caused the outage.

According to NBC News, the airline was forced to issue handwritten boarding passes to passengers at many airports.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com and includes information from Reuters

TIME Aviation

Remains of Germanwings Co-Pilot Reportedly Identified in Wreckage

The remains of Andreas Lubitz could yield important clues

Authorities believe they have identified the remains of the Germanwings co-pilot who apparently crashed the plane into the French Alps and killed all 150 people aboard last week, according to a new report.

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, citing unnamed French investigators, reported that remains of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz were identified on Saturday using DNA matching. The 27-year-old Lubitz’s remains could yield important clues about the reasons for the crash, including whether he was using drugs or on depression medications, forensic scientists told Der Spiegel.

Lubitz was alone the cockpit of the Airbus A320 when the plane struck a mountainside in the French Alps, authorities have said. A French prosecutor said Lubitz intentionally flew the plane into the ground, even as the captain, who was outside the cockpit, banged on the door demanding to be let back in and passengers screamed in terror.

In the days since the crash it has emerged that Lubitz had undisclosed mental health issues and also sought treatment for vision problems that may have affected his ability to fly a plane.

[Bild am Sonntag]

TIME Aviation

Investigators Focus on Germanwings Co-pilot’s Mental State

A question of what could have "destabilized" Andreas Lubitz in Germanwings plane crash

(MARSEILLE, France)—European investigators are focusing on the psychological state of a 27-year-old German co-pilot who prosecutors say deliberately flew a plane carrying 150 people into a mountain, a French police official said Monday.

Returning from a meeting with his counterparts in Germany, judicial police investigator Jean-Pierre Michel told The Associated Press that authorities want to find out “what could have destabilized Andreas Lubitz or driven him to such an act.”

Lubitz was the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 last week that crashed into a French Alps mountain near Le Vernet en route from Barcelona, Spain, to Duesseldorf, Germany, killing everyone on board.

“To have carried out such an act, it’s clearly psychological,” Michel said.

Authorities are trying to understand what made Lubitz lock his captain out of the cockpit and ignore his pleas to open the door before manually ordering the plane to descend on what should have been a routine flight. To that end, they are speaking with people who knew and worked with Lubitz — such as co-workers, his employer, his doctors.

At the remote mountain crash site itself, French authorities were building a road to facilitate access to the site.

In the southeastern city of Marseille, Germanwings chief operating officer Oliver Wagner was meeting with victims’ relatives. A total of 325 family members have come to France, he told reporters.

French officials have refused to confirm or deny news reports suggesting that Lubitz had been on medication for the treatment of depression or other mental issues. They also refused to comment on a report in Germany’s Bild am Sontag on an alleged transcript of the cockpit voice recorder that had the captain shouting: “For God’s sake, open the door!”

Brice Robin, a state prosecutor in in the southeastern French city of Marseille, has said none of the bodies recovered so far have been identified, denying German media reports that Lubitz’s body had been found.

Tests on the body of the co-pilot may provide clues about any medical treatment he was receiving. German prosecutors said Friday that Lubitz was hiding an illness and sick notes from a doctor for the day of the crash from his employer.

Wagner recalled a meeting in Haltern, Germany, last week with the parents of 16 high school students who had died in the crash, saying it was “certainly the saddest day of my life.”

“They asked ‘Why our children?'” he said. “We don’t understand what has happened and why it has happened.”

TIME Aviation

Australia Mandates at Least 2 People Stay in Cockpits After Germanwings Crash

Regulation would apply to all commercial flights with a least two flight attendants or more than 50 passengers

(CANBERRA, Australia)—Australia on Monday responded to the Germanwings air disaster by mandating that at least two crew members be present at all times in cockpits of larger domestic and international airliners.

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said airlines including Qantas and Virgin Australia would implement the changed security protocols from Monday afternoon. It would apply to all commercial flights with a least two flight attendants or more than 50 passengers. A flight attendant would enter the flight deck if one of the two pilots left it for any reason.

Previously, most Australian airlines have allowed their pilots to be alone on the flight deck.

French prosecutors blame co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, for the crash of Flight 9525 that claimed 150 lives in southern France last week. The cockpit voice recorder has revealed that the pilot had been shut out of the cockpit when the Airbus A320 crashed.

Truss said there were already mental illnesses that stopped sufferers from being pilots in Australia, and that pilots’ health was regularly assessed.

“There is a need to balance the fact that people with proper treatment can recover from mental illness and be able to undertake normal careers with the critical priority of ensuring that aircraft are always safe,” he told reporters.

“So this is a challenging issue for airlines and indeed for that matter for other employers, to be fair to their employees who have mental health issues but at the time ensuring that those mental health issues do not put at risk the lives of other Australians,” he added.

Pilot suicide is one of the theories behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which flew far off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 last year and is believed to have crashed off the Australian coast with 239 passengers and crew on board.

Truss said pilot suicide was suspected behind more than a dozen plane crashes over the past 40 years.

TIME

Hometown Stands By Germanwings Co-Pilot Despite Tragedy, Pastor Says

"The co-pilot, the family belong to our community"

(MONTABAUR, Germany) — The pastor of the Lutheran church in Andreas Lubitz’s hometown said Sunday that the community stands by him and his family, despite the fact that prosecutors blame the 27-year-old co-pilot for causing the plane crash that killed 150 people in southern France.

The town of Montabaur has been rattled by the revelation that Lubitz, who first learned to fly at a nearby glider club, may have intentionally caused Tuesday’s crash of Germanwings Flight 9525.

“For us, it makes it particularly difficult that the only victim from Montabaur is suspected to have caused this tragedy, this crash — although this has not been finally confirmed, but a lot is indicating that — and we have to face this,” pastor Michael Dietrich said.

He spoke to The Associated Press after holding a church service Sunday to commemorate the crash victims and support their families.

“The co-pilot, the family belong to our community, and we stand by this, and we embrace them and will not hide this, and want to support the family in particular,” Dietrich said.

He added that there is no direct contact with the family at the moment, but that he believes they are receiving good assistance.

French prosecutors haven’t questioned the family yet “out of decency and respect for their pain,” Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said.

Authorities are trying to understand what made Lubitz lock his fellow pilot out of the cockpit and ignore his pleas to open the door before slamming the plane into a mountain on what should have been a routine flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.

French officials refused to confirm or deny a partial transcript that German newspaper Bild am Sontag said it had obtained of the cockpit recording. The paper reported Sunday that the pilot left for the toilet shortly before 10:30 a.m. and was heard trying unsuccessfully to get into the cockpit again a few minutes later, then shouting “for God’s sake open the door.”

After several more minutes in which the pilot could be heard trying to break open the door, the plane crashed into the mountainside, according to Bild am Sonntag, which didn’t say how it obtained the report.

Brice, the Marseille prosecutor said that none of the bodies recovered so far have been identified, denying German media reports that Lubitz’s body had been found.

Tests on the body of the co-pilot may provide clues on any medical treatment he was receiving. Germany prosecutors said Friday that Lubitz was hiding an illness and sick notes for the day of the crash from his employer.

Dietrich, the pastor, said he knew Lubitz as a teenager, when he attended religious education 13 years ago, and his mother, who worked as a part-time organist in the community.

“When I worked with her or talked to her, it was very good and very harmonious. We had good conversations,” Dietrich said. “I know her and her family. This does not make sense. It is incomprehensible for me, for us, for everyone who knew her and the family.”

“From what I’ve heard, there were no obvious signs that there is anything in the background that could lead to this,” he added.

In Rome, Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for the victims of the plane crash, citing in particular the 16 German students returning from an exchange trip to Spain.

Francis offered the prayer after Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the start of Holy Week.

In Le Vernet, a town near the crash site, families and friends of those killed were still coming to terms with what had happened.

“Members of the family shed tears as they went to see the site,” said Ippei Yamanaka, co-worker of Japanese passenger Junichi Sato who died in the crash. “It was particularly moving to see Mr. Sato’s father asking the leader of the Kempeitai (a Japanese military rescue team), with many tears in his eyes, for them to continue the search operation and for it to finish earlier even by just one day.”

“His wife says she still she cannot believe what has happened, saying that it almost feels like her husband is away on his business trip and that it still feels like he is going to return soon,” Yamanaka said.

___

Frank Jordans in Berlin, Philippe Sotto in Paris and Frances D’Emilio in Rome, contributed to this report.

TIME Aviation

Germanwings Flight’s Final Moments Heard on Cockpit Recordings

"For God's sake, open the door," the captain, Patrick Sonderheimer, can be heard demanding

The pilot of the doomed Germanwings plane desperately struggled to get into the cockpit that the co-pilot had locked him out of before the plane crashed into the French Alps, killing all 150 on board, a German newspaper reported Sunday.

“For God’s sake, open the door,” the captain, Patrick Sonderheimer, can be heard demanding in cockpit voice recordings salvaged by investigators probing Tuesday’s crash, according to the German publication Bild am Sonntag.

The 27-year-old co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, doesn’t reply, even as the pilot’s pleas are accompanied by screams of terrified passengers, Bild am Sonntag reported. Lubitz also ignored bangs on …

Read more from our partners at NBC News

TIME Aviation

Grim Recovery Mission Underway at Germanwings Crash Site

"We have not found a single body intact"

SEYNE-LES-ALPES, France (AP) — The ravine echoes with helicopter rotors, the scrape of metal on stone, the rumble of sliding scree as the remnants of Germanwings Flight 9525 dislodge from the mountainside.

The somber mission to recover the remains of 150 people killed when their plane slammed full speed into the Col de Mariaud is not a quiet one, and evidence can be gathered only when the mountains cooperate.

From 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., while the light is good, the helicopters ferry the crews into the ravine. It is too steep to land, so the 40 crewmembers are winched down singly or in pairs with packs bulging with clear plastic bags, red and yellow evidence tags, and the ropes they will use to keep each other from slipping when the black Alpine stone crumbles beneath their feet. Each investigator is linked to a local mountaineer, familiar with the terrain and with the skills to keep them safe.

Few pieces are larger than a car door. Most are smaller. And with each step the recovery workers make, crucial pieces of evidence slide inexorably downward. Some slip into a mountain brook fed by the snow that has only just begun melting in the French Alps.

“We have not found a single body intact,” Col. Patrick Touron, one of France’s leading forensic investigators, said Friday from Seyne-les-Alpes. “DNA will be the determining element that will lead to identification.”

Between 400 and 600 biological elements have been retrieved and five scientists are in Seyne-les-Alpes to speed the process, he said. The families who arrived during the week provided objects such as toothbrushes, which belonged to the deceased, and some gave their own DNA samples to help cross-reference the forensic information found in the remains.

The moment a piece of human remains is found, forensic scientists have been taking a DNA sample immediately, from fears it could further decompose, and update the vast — 150-person-strong — DNA database pool they are compiling on-site, Touron said. Jewelry and dental information are also key to the identification process, he said.

Touron noted the bodies would be returned to the families as soon as possible, but warned the process would be long.

Just few kilometers (miles) away, ski stations are still full. The ground is bare where the A320 shattered, but “the pieces of wreckage are so small and shiny they appear like patches of snow on the mountainside,” said Pierre-Henry Brandet, the Interior Ministry spokesman, after first flying over the debris field.

Traveling by foot on the hiking paths that wind through the Alps, it’s possible to reach the site in about an hour. Police all-terrain vehicles have barred the way since the Tuesday crash, guarding against the curious and macabre.

Each load must be carried away by helicopter, and the operation halts at sundown and with the onset of rain or wind. It is likely to last weeks.

Evidence goes into the plastic bags, sealed with a drawstring for speed. Remains go into body bags which are hooked carefully onto the winch, sometimes alongside a helmeted recovery worker, arms spread wide as if in benediction, and everything goes soaring off to Seyne-les-Alpes. Just a few minutes in the air instead of hours overland.

French investigators have not outlined what will happen with the recovered plane pieces, though the focus of the investigation is no longer on technical issues with the plane now that prosecutors say the co-pilot deliberately crashed the plane.

In investigations conducted by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, all pieces of wreckage and other evidence are removed from the crash site and taken to a secure location, usually an aircraft hangar, where they remain during the course of the investigation. When the investigation is over, they are returned to the owner of the plane — usually that is either the airline or an insurance company.

Some personal effects that are clearly identifiable as belonging to an individual — a watch inscribed with a name, for example — are washed and returned to family members. Other personal effects — luggage, coats, shoes, etc. — are photographed and the photos placed in a catalog that family members can look through to identify the belongings of their family members.

The plane’s first black box, containing the cockpit recordings, was recovered within hours of the crash. Pulled from the battered orange casing, the audio files revealed almost unimaginable horror — the plane’s co-pilot locked his commander out of the cockpit and set the aircraft on a descent straight into the mountain, said Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin.

Somewhere on the mountain is the plane’s second black box, ripped from a casing designed to withstand an acceleration of 3,400 times the force of gravity or speeds up to about 310 mph (500 kph). It contains nearly 25 hours’ worth of information on the position and condition of almost every major part in a plane. Recovery crews know this — and the recovery of the bodies — is their priority.

“At this very moment, men are on site to keep looking, keep looking more,” French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday. “They will continue until they get it.”

Read next: German Co-Pilot Visited Alps Near Crash Site as a Child

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Aviation

German Co-Pilot Visited Alps Near Crash Site as a Child

Germany France Plane Crash
Michael Mueller—AP In this Sept. 13, 2009 photo, Andreas Lubitz competes at the Airportrun in Hamburg, northern Germany.

(SISTERON, FRANCE)—The German co-pilot accused of crashing a passenger plane in the French Alps frequented a gliding club near the crash site as a child with his parents, according to a member of the club.

Francis Kefer, a member of the club in the town of Sisteron, said on i-Tele television that Andreas Lubitz’s family and other members of the gliding club in his home town of Montabaur, Germany, came to the region regularly between 1996 and 2003.

French prosecutors say Lubitz deliberately slammed the Germanwings flight into a mountain on Tuesday, killing all 150 people aboard. German prosecutors are trying to determine what caused Lubitz to take such a devastating decision.

The crash site is about 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from the Aero-club de Sisteron glider airfield.

Officials at the club would not comment Saturday.

The area, with its numerous peaks and valleys and stunning panoramas, is popular with glider pilots. In the final moments of the Germanwingsflight, Lubitz overflew the major turning points for gliders in the region, flying from one peak to another, according to local glider pilots.

A special Mass was being held Saturday in the nearby town of Digne-les-Bains to honor the victims and support their families.

Bishop Jean-Philippe Nault led the Mass, attended by about 200 people from the surrounding region, deeply shaken by the crash. It was the deadliest crash on French soil in decades.

The plane shattered into thousands of pieces, and police are toiling to retrieve the remains of the victims and the aircraft from a hard-to-reach Alpine valley near the village of Le Vernet.

German prosecutors say Lubitz hid evidence of an illness from his employers — including a torn-up doctor’s note that would have kept him off work the day authorities say he crashed Flight 9525.

Searches conducted at Lubitz’s homes in Duesseldorf and in the town of Montabaur turned up documents pointing to “an existing illness and appropriate medical treatment,” but no suicide note was found, said Ralf Herrenbrueck, of the Duesseldorf prosecutors’ office.

Prosecutors didn’t specify what illness Lubitz may have been suffering from, or say whether it was mental or physical. German media reported Friday that the 27-year-old had suffered from depression.

Duesseldorf University Hospital said Friday that Lubitz had been a patient there over the past two months and last went in for a “diagnostic evaluation” on March 10. It declined to provide details, citing medical confidentiality, but denied reports it had treated Lubitz for depression.

Germanwings declined Saturday to comment when asked whether the company was aware of any psychological problems Lubitz might have had, but said he had received medical clearance to fly.

Among the forms that German pilots have to complete when applying for a license is a medical questionnaire that requires details of previous or existing psychological or psychiatric trouble or illness. Applicants have to sign that they consent to give the examining doctor and, if necessary, a medical expert at Germany’s Federal Aviation Office access to all medical documents.

Neighbors and colleagues described Lubitz as an affable man whose physical health was superb. Race records show he took part in several long-distance runs.

Frank Woiton, another Germanwings pilot, said Lubitz told him he wanted to become a long-distance pilot and fly Airbus A380 or Boeing 747 planes.

Woiton, who like Lubitz comes from Montabaur, said he met Lubitz for the first time three weeks ago when they flew Duesseldorf to Vienna and back together.

Woiton told German public broadcaster WDR on Friday that Lubitz didn’t stand out and appeared like any other colleague. Lubitz “flew well and knew how to handle the plane,” he said.

Following the crash, the European Aviation Safety Agency issued a new recommendation that all airlines in Europe should require two people in the cockpit at all times during flight. If one of the pilots leaves the cockpit — only allowed during the cruising stage — then a flight attendant needs to take his or her place.

Ilias Maragakis, a spokesman for the agency, said EASA’s recommendation isn’t binding but airlines generally follow them. Once the crash investigation has been completed, the agency may review and amend its compulsory regulations and requirements.

TIME World

Here’s How a Germanwings Pilot Reassured Scared Passengers the Day After the Crash

A Germanwings Airbus A320 is seen at the Berlin airport, March 29, 2014. An Airbus plane of the same model crashed in southern France en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, on March 24, 2015 police and aviation officials said.
Jan Seba—Reuters A Germanwings Airbus A320 is seen at the Berlin airport, March 29, 2014. An Airbus plane of the same model crashed in southern France en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, on March 24, 2015 police and aviation officials said.

A woman on board explains a pilot's heartfelt message

The morning after Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed into the French Alps—before any real details were known about the state of the plane or co-pilot Andreas Lubitz’ mental state—Britta Englisch hesitantly stepped onto a Germanwings flight from Hamburg to Cologne.

As soon as she walked onto the plane, she and the other passengers were personally welcomed by the pilot, who assured them that he’d get them to their destination safely. Englisch praised the dedicated pilot and crew on Germanwings’ Facebook page Wednesday night, and her heartfelt post has since gone viral—accumulating some 300,000 likes in less than two days.

“This flight was the morning after the crash—at this time no details were known and everything was mere speculation,” Englisch, who lives in Hamburg, tells TIME via email. “Logically it was pretty clear to me, that Germanwings might have been the safest airline at that morning—they doublechecked every plane and pilots and crew were free to choose if they were feeling able to fly or not. Nevertheless I had this feeling in my stomach. Feelings are not logical, are they?”

But her worry subsided after the pilot personally welcomed people as they boarded the plane. “If someone made an uneasy impression, he talked to them,” says Englisch, a PR manager at Stage Entertainment.

After boarding was complete, rather than going into the cockpit, the pilot took a microphone and began to address his passengers.

“He introduced himself and his crew, talked about how he felt—that some of the crew knew someone on the plane, that he also had a slight uneasy feeling not knowing what happened,” Englisch recollects. “[The pilot continued that] he and the crew are there voluntarily, that the company didn’t force anyone to be on duty that day, that he double-checked the plane this morning. [He said that] he has family, kids and a wife who he loves, that the crew has loved ones and [that] he’ll do everything to return safely to them every evening.”

For a moment everyone was silent.

“No one was checking his phone for the last time or reading the papers,” Englisch says, noting that that is unusual for a commuter flight full of businesspeople. “And then everyone applauded.”

Englisch didn’t intend for her post, supporting the grieving airline, to gain so much attention.

“It was just one post amongst thousand others and it was meant to say thank you to the pilot for not hiding in the cockpit but letting us be part of his feelings.”

Here is her post:

Read next: Here’s What We Know About the Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz

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