Germanwings pilot battled depression before Alps crash

Andreas Lubitz’s diary raises new questions about why he was allowed to fly

The German pilot who crashed a Germanwings plane into the Alps last March, killing 149 passengers and crew, admitted in a diary he saw "no way back to a fulfilled life", despite treatment for depression by 41 doctors.

Over 6,000 pages of diaries and medical records, collected by French investigators and seen by Germany's Bild tabloid, reveal Andreas Lubitz's long-term battle with depression and his efforts to hide his problems from his employer.

“I feel so sad, so desperate,” he wrote. “I see how the world turns without me and that I am not up to even simple situations ... and see no way back to a normal, fulfilled life.”

Almost a year after the crash, the documents raise fresh questions about why a man who appeared to be grappling with serious psychological and emotional problems was allowed fly, and whether patient confidentiality provisions meant his doctors and employer – Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings – were not aware of the scale of his problems and their ongoing nature.


Lubitz, from the western German town of Montabaur, had dreamed as a boy of becoming a pilot. But he began suffering emotional problems when he left home to realise that dream in September 2008 and train as a commercial airline pilot at the Lufthansa school in Bremen.

Though Lubitz knew he had started down the road to his dream job, and had found a “cute and tidy” apartment, he complained through 23 pages of diary entries at the time of the “emptiness and loneliness” he felt while there.

“I have serious problems with my training,” he wrote, complaining of physical symptoms such as noises in his ears, numbness in his limbs and inability to taste food. These symptoms, combined with fear he was losing his sight, “put huge pressure on me and are driving me to ruin”.

To the outside world Andreas Lubitz lead a normal life but, in private, the young pilot admitted that this was all a show to prevent him losing his job. He confided to a diary on his computer in 2009 that he had "serious problems".

“I can barely think straight and am largely preoccupied with my complaints and the hopelessness of my situation,” he wrote.

A preliminary diagnosis prepared by a therapist said Lubitz – who had interrupted his training in Bremen to seek psychological help – did not suffer from impaired consciousness or suicidal tendencies. But he was “fearful and insecure”, the therapist wrote, suffered from “pronounced self-pity” and was “dominated by inner conflicts over his own personality”.

After 45 hours of treatment including clinical hypnosis, relaxation exercises and analysis, a Lufthansa-registered psychologist reported that the treatment – aided by sleeping tablets and anti-depressants – appeared to be working. The therapist wrote on August 11th, 2009, six years before the crash: “From a psychological-psychotherapeutic perspective, the patient can continue his training.”

In June 2014 he was appointed co-pilot but, eight months later in February 2015, he sought out a doctor for psychosomatic complaints. A month later he crashed flight 4U9525.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin