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Andreas Lubitz, Germanwings flight 4U9525 Co-Pilot  in a selfie
Andreas Lubitz, Germanwings flight 4U9525 Co-Pilot in a selfie

A haunting new image has emerged of killer co-pilot Andreas Lubitz as it was claimed he may have sought treatment for problems with his vision in the weeks leading up to moment he deliberately flew a Germanwings passenger plane into the French Alps.

Lubitz, who is pictured smiling into the camera in the selfie which appears to have been taken in his bathroom, is said to have sought help over his vision as recently as March 10, amid fears his eye problems may have jeopardised his ability to continue working as a pilot.

It came as police revealed that evidence found at his home suggested he was suffering from a ‘serious psychosomatic illness’. Officers reportedly found a variety of drugs used to treat mental illness at his flat in Dusseldorf, appearing to substantiate claims he was severely depressed.

And a former partner described him as a tormented, erratic man who was a master of hiding his darkest thoughts and would wake up from nightmares screaming ‘we’re going down’.

The 26-year-old Germanwings stewardess, known only as Maria W, revealed to a German newspaper how Lubitz ominously told her last year: ‘One day I will do something that will change the whole system, and then all will know my name and remember it.’

‘One day I will do something that will change the whole system, and then all will know my name and remember it.’ Lubitz told his ex-girlfriend last year

The startling revelations add weight to the claims that Lubitz tried to conceal medical conditions that should have stopped him flying.

It is not clear how severe his eye problems were, but officials confirmed that evidence found at his home suggested he was being treated for psychological issues.

Two officials with knowledge of the investigation said the authorities had not ruled out the possibility that the problems with his vision could have been psychosomatic, the New York Times reported.

The revelation came after German investigators revealed that the 27-year-old should have been off sick on the day he deliberately condemned his 149 passengers and crewmates to their deaths in the Alps.

Investigators said medical sign-off notes were found at his home – including at least one that covered the day of the crash – and Dusseldorf University Hospital confirmed he had been a patient there over the past two months.

While the hospital would not initially disclose his condition, bosses confirmed that he had been evaluated at the clinic in February and on March 10.

The hospital, which has its own eye clinic, later denied speculation that he sought treatment for depression at the centre but would not confirm he had attended for vision problems, citing privacy laws.

It came as German newspaper Welt am Sonntag said police found evidence at his flat which suggested he was suffering from ‘severe burnout syndrome’ – a serious psychosomatic illness.

A source in the police investigation team told the newspaper that Lubitz was treated by several neurologists and psychiatrists, before adding: ‘This is clear from personal notes stored and collected by the pilot.’

‘Severe burnout syndrome’ is a state of emotional, mental and physical ‎exhaustion and is often linked to those in jobs with high stress levels.

It is not clear how severe his eye problems were, but officials confirmed that evidence found at his home suggested he was being treated for psychological issues.

Two officials with knowledge of the investigation said the authorities had not ruled out the possibility that the problems with his vision could have been psychosomatic, the New York Times reported.

The revelation came after German investigators revealed that the 27-year-old should have been off sick on the day he deliberately condemned his 149 passengers and crewmates to their deaths in the Alps.

Investigators said medical sign-off notes were found at his home – including at least one that covered the day of the crash – and Dusseldorf University Hospital confirmed he had been a patient there over the past two months.

While the hospital would not initially disclose his condition, bosses confirmed that he had been evaluated at the clinic in February and on March 10.

The hospital, which has its own eye clinic, later denied speculation that he sought treatment for depression at the centre but would not confirm he had attended for vision problems, citing privacy laws.

It came as German newspaper Welt am Sonntag said police found evidence at his flat which suggested he was suffering from ‘severe burnout syndrome’ – a serious psychosomatic illness.

A source in the police investigation team told the newspaper that Lubitz was treated by several neurologists and psychiatrists, before adding: ‘This is clear from personal notes stored and collected by the pilot.’

‘Severe burnout syndrome’ is a state of emotional, mental and physical ‎exhaustion and is often linked to those in jobs with high stress levels.

Police will want to interview the air stewardess in detail about the pilot’s state of mind, as well as his most recent girlfriend who he is said to have lived with in a smart flat on the outskirts of Dusseldorf. One report claimed they had been together on and off for seven years and were engaged and planned to marry next year.

Lubitz had reportedly ordered two new Audis for them just before the tragedy in an apparent desperate last attempt to win her back. But she appeared to have rejected his offer, as only one car was ever delivered.

It is not known why they split but it has been claimed their relationship broke down because he was secretly gay and was suffering torment over hiding his homosexuality.

One report claimed he was taunted by fellow pilots for previously being a ‘trolley dolly’ airline steward and dubbed ‘Tomato Andy’ – a derogatory gay slur – by colleagues.

A Lufthansa spokesman declined to comment on the stewardess’s comments but the company and its low-cost subsidiary Germanwings took out full-page advertisements in major German and French newspapers today, expressing ‘deepest mourning’.

The firms offered condolences to the friends and families of the passengers and crew and thanked the thousands of people in France, Spain and Germany it said had helped since the crash.

German officials also announced that there would be a ceremony on April 17 in Cologne Cathedral attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and senior officials from other countries including France and Spain.

As investigators continue to scour his complicated background, it also emerged that the fitness fanatic was receiving treatment for his mental health issues and apparently feared his flying licence would be taken away if his airline learned the extent of his psychological breakdown.

At least one of the medical certificates found by investigators covered Tuesday, the day Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and calmly crashed the aircraft. Reports in Germany last night claimed that two doctors had signed him off sick on the day of the disaster.

More sick notes are said to have covered other days when he flew despite being told not to. But police said they found no suicide note in a five-hour search.

Lubitz had notched up more than 600 flying hours and had been deemed ‘100 per cent’ fit to fly after passing regular medical tests.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said all pilots undergo annual medical checks, but not special psychiatric assessments beyond training.

He added: ‘He passed all medical exams, all checks. He was 100 per cent fit to fly without any restrictions.’

Mr Spohr said Lufthansa pilots go through an extensive battery of physical and psychological testing including regular vision and cognitive tests.

He added that Lufthansa routinely checks on pilots’ ability to fly, but that psychological exams are not implemented once training ends.

A spokesman for Germanwings told MailOnline that under German employment law it was the responsibility of an employee to inform an employer if they were deemed unfit to work.

He said: ‘We do not have the right to ask for this medical information from any employee. It is their responsibility to tell their superior, to tell their employer if they are sick.’ He said doctors could not step in as the data would be protected.

The company also stressed that it was unaware of any medical notes from Lubitz.

Described as a man whose life-long obsession had been to become a pilot, it has been suggested he may have feared his flying licence might not be renewed on medical grounds. One friend said he ‘would have died’ if he had not passed his flying exams.

It also emerged that Lubitz was familiar with the area of the French Alps where he brought down the Airbus A320, having previously completed a gliding course there.

He frequented a gliding club just 30 miles from the crash site with his parents as a child before later flying over the province himself as a teenager.

Members of his former flying club said he was ‘passionate and obsessed’ with the Alps and would have been well-acquainted with the area of the crash.

The disclosures will raise more questions for Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, as to how he was allowed to fly a passenger jet when he was known to suffer from depression – and to have suffered burnout and mental illness.

Unusually, Lubitz’s file with the German Civil Aviation Authority had been ‘flagged’ with the warning that he needed regular psychological assessment before being allowed to continue to fly.

Lawyers believe the families of victims could win up to £100million in a joint action against Lufthansa and Germanwings, which had claimed Lubitz was ‘100 per cent fit to fly’ but then admitted he slipped through their safety net.

Belgian Christian Driessens, whose brother Claude died in the crash, said: ‘I don’t understand how a serious company can let a depressed man pilot a plane.’ Police have ruled out any religious or political motive for the crash.

Ralf Herrenbrueck, of the German prosecutors office, said that torn-up sick notes ‘support the current preliminary assessment that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and colleagues’.

He said seized documents indicated ‘an existing illness and appropriate medical treatment’.

Police are investigating whether Lubitz had stopped taking any medication he was on.

As well as having been signed off from training with depression in 2008 and suffering a ‘depressive episode’ in 2009, it was reported that Lubitz had continued to receive mental health support right up until this week’s crash.

He had been described as ‘unflyable’ while at flying school and had been downgraded on several occasions due to depression. He had received psychiatric treatment for an 18-month period, according to reports.

Lubitz seemed overwhelmed by stress after he started his pilot training course with Lufthansa, said the boss of fast food restaurant where he had previously worked.

Airline bosses stressed last night that Lubitz had not presented the company with a sick note for last Tuesday – and it had not known he had been signed off.

It came as relatives of the victims on the doomed flight, including those of captain Patrick Sonderheimer, gathered in the village of Le Vernet, near the crash site, to lay floral tributes.

Others attended a special mass ceremony in Notre-Dame-du-Bourg Cathedral in Dignes in the French Alps.

A passenger on the outbound flight from Dusseldorf to Barcelona, which is believed to have had Lubitz on board, also questioned today why he didn’t down that flight instead.

Michael, 45, said he saw the pilot leave the cockpit during the 6.45am flight for a toilet break.

He told Bild: ‘I sat in the fifth row. I could see the front of the plane. The toilet behind the cockpit was apparently out of order, I could see the red light flashing throughout the flight.

‘A man over 40, probably the pilot, in a grey V neck sweater came through the curtain. He went through the plane probably to the rear toilet.

‘After an estimated three to five minutes he came back and again opened the cockpit door.’

He said he didn’t see the co-pilot during the flight but described the journey as ‘unobtrusive and ‘normal’.

Lubitz, a keen half-marathon runner, grew up in the small town of Montabaur where his businessman father and piano teacher mother owned an imposing detached property, worth some £330,000.

A friend said: ‘For him there was ever only one goal – to fly. It was a dream he had had since primary school. His room was plastered with pictures of planes and the Lufthansa logo could be seen everywhere. Pictures of old planes, new planes, of the largest planes – everywhere you could see aviation stuff.’

The Germanwings tragedy has already led to a number of developments in the airline industry.

The Civil Aviation Authority called on UK airline operators to review safety procedures, and easyJet and British Airways were among several airlines to introduce rules so that two crew members are in the cockpit at all times.

Daily Mail

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