Europe's air safety regulator said it found more than 10 incidents in recent years in which Germany appeared lax in following aviation medical requirements, prompting a European Commission investigation that is still under review.
"The exact nature remains confidential, but there were several findings, more than 10 in the last few years, in the aero-medical domain," Dominique Fouda, a spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said yesterday.
The disclosure of lapses at Germany's air-safety enforcement body are of interest because investigators have said that Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot suspected of crashing a Germanwings plane, killing all 150 people aboard, had a psychosomatic condition and previous mental illness.
He was being treated by neurologists and psychiatrists and had told the flight training school run by Germanwings owner Deutsche Lufthansa AG about an episode of severe depression.
The German regulator, called Luftfahrtbundesamt (LBA), “wasn’t informed about Lubitz’s medical background”, the agency said in a statement.
The news about lapses in Germany’s handling of aviation medical issues prior to the Germanwings crash was first reported by the
Wall Street Journal
on Saturday. The authority sought information about the co-pilot on March 27th, three days after the Germanwings crash in the French Alps, from the
Aeromedical Centre in Frankfurt.
Lubitz was found fit to fly by Lufthansa’s medical facility in 2009, and the regulator was informed in keeping with rules, LBA said. The medical centre didn’t tell the regulator about Lubitz’s previous severe depression, it said.
Aviation medical staff have been required to inform the regulator of illnesses such as depression since April 2013, according to an article in
. Deutsche Lufthansa declined to comment yesterday.
The European Commission, following EASA's initial findings, presented Germany with questions. The answers, filed by the end of 2014, are being assessed, European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said.
Wigand said that the issuance of findings is a “normal and regular occurrence, part of a continuous system of oversight: findings are followed by corrective action, similar to an audit process”.
EU audits found that LBA had staff shortages that could undermine its ability to run checks of carriers and crew, including medical checks, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing two people familiar with the issue.
The authority formally told Germany last November to remedy the situation, the newspaper said.