The Germanwings co-pilot who investigators believe intentionally crashed a passenger jet into the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 aboard, worried "health problems" would dash his dreams and vowed one day to do something to "change the whole system," an ex-girlfriend told a German newspaper.
The 26-year-old woman quoted in Saturday’s issue of the German daily Bild said Andreas Lubitz told her, "One day I'm going to do something that will change the whole system, and everyone will know my name and remember."
French prosecutors have said Lubitz, 27, crashed the plane after locking the commanding pilot out of the cockpit. German authorities said Friday that they'd found torn-up sick notes from doctors showing that Lubitz suffered from an illness that should have grounded him on the day of the tragedy. German media reported he had suffered from depression.
Dusseldorf University Hospital said Friday that Lubitz had been a patient there over the past two months and last went in for a “diagnostic evaluation” March 10. It declined to provide details but denied reports that Lubitz had been treated for depression.
The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that Lubitz “was examined for vision problems that may have affected his ability to fly,” but said “it is unclear whether Mr. Lubitz’s difficulties were so serious that doctors considered him unfit to fly.”
Germanwings, the Lufthansa subsidiary that Lubitz joined in 2013, declined Saturday to comment when asked whether the company was aware of any health problems he might have had. But it said he had passed all required medical checkups.
According to a CNN online report Saturday, “Lubitz passed his annual pilot recertification medical examination in summer 2014.”
Aviation experts say those checks are stringent but focus mainly on physical health. A pilot's mental state is usually assessed only once, before companies decide whether to admit him to a training program. Even then, a determined person could hide a latent problem.
Lufthansa announced Friday that it would implement new rules requiring two crew members to be in the cockpit at all times. Europe's aviation safety agency recommended that all airlines adopt the standard.
The U.S. has required at least two people inside the cockpit of an airborne plane since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A member of the flight crew must stand in if a pilot needs to leave. Other airlines have taken similar action, including Air Canada.
Meanwhile, a memorial service was held Saturday in the town of Digne-les-Bains to honor victims of the Germanwings crash. About 200 people, including family, relatives and friends of the victims, attended the Mass led by the Bishop of Digne, Jean-Philippe Nault.
One participant, Max Pignede, joined in the prayers and delivered a reading in the hope that victims' families would find comfort.
"The emotion caused by this accident is huge and international. Let the families and relatives of the victims find solace in the manifestation of compassion, Lord, we pray to you," he said.