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Monday 21 August 2017

Andreas Lubitz profile: 'He gave off a good feeling' - the quiet co-pilot who killed his 150 passengers

Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz pictured in San Francisco, California (AP)
Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz pictured in San Francisco, California (AP)

The co-pilot of the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps has been named by French authorities as German national Andreas Lubitz.

Information released by authorities investigating the crash about the pilots themselves has been sparse thus far. However, what we do know about Lubitz is that the 28-year-old was from Montabaur, a town in the district seat of the Westerwaldkreis in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

The LSC flying club, where he was a member, posted a death notice on their website naming him.

“Andreas became a member of the club as a youth to fulfil his dream of flying,” it said. “The members of the LSC Westerwald mourn Andreas and the other 149 victims of the disaster. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the victims of all nationalities.”

His full name is believed to be Andreas Günter Lubitz and he is reported to have completed just 630 hours of flying time. A member of the LSC Westerwald e.V glider club – where Lubitz also renewed his glider pilots’ licence in 2013 – said he had a girlfriend at the time. At a press conference, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said Lubitz had taken a three-month break during his training six years ago, but did not elaborate on what the break was for. He said Lubitz was fit for flying without any restrictions.

“His performance was without any criticism, nothing at all was striking,” he added. “In a company like ours, where we are so proud of our selection criteria and safety criteria, this is even more of a shock than it is for the general public.

“We have regular psychological checks and we also have a medical check once per year. We have a very high flung and sophisticated selection procedure.

 “Later, during training, and later on during professional life, the person is observed.

“But there is no procedure anywhere in the world where the family and friends are interviewed.”

The captain of the doomed Germanwings plane has since been named by the same flying club as Patrick S, which it is understood stands for Sondenheimer, which said he had completed more than 6,000 flying hours.

A former colleague named as ‘Dieter’ described Sondenheimer as a “very experienced pilot, very serious [...] he was one of the best”.

He said Sondenheimer was married with two children.

“He was a good man, kind, with a good sense of humour,” he added.

Lubitz was recognised by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in September 2013, with inclusion in the FAA Airmen Certification Database, according to an article published by the Aviation Business Gazette.

In Montabaur, acquaintances said Lubitz showed no signs of depression when they last saw him as he renewed his glider pilot’s license.

“He was happy he had the job with Germanwings and he was doing well,” said a member of the glider club, Peter Ruecker. “He gave off a good feeling.”

Mr Ruecker said Lubitz received his glider pilot’s license as a teenager and was later accepted as a Lufthansa pilot trainee. He remembered him as “rather quiet” but friendly.

It is reported that he also had a residence in Dusseldorf.

hnews@herald.ie

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