April 2, 2015 / 7:01 AM / 5 years ago

Germanwings pilot hid from doctors he was still flying

BERLIN (Reuters) - The Germanwings co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing an airliner in the French Alps allegedly lied to doctors, telling them he was on sick leave rather than flying commercial planes, German daily Bild reported on Thursday.

The revelation came as Germany set up a task force to learn safety lessons from the crash which killed 150 people last week.

Citing sources close to the investigation, Bild said 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz had sought medical help to try to cure an eye condition.

Although Lubitz told doctors about his job as a pilot, and in some cases about his employer Germanwings, he deliberately concealed that he was still working, the paper said.

Had Lubitz told doctors he was still flying, they might have felt the need to break their vow of patient confidentiality and inform his employers because he might be a danger to others.

Bild said that documents available to investigators had revealed Lubitz said he was in a car crash at the end of 2014 and had complained of resulting trauma and vision problems.

Lubitz’s motive for locking the captain out of the cockpit of the A320 and apparently deliberately steering the aircraft into a mountain are still a mystery.

Medical records showed that Lubitz said that he was taking medicines for depression, anxiety disorders and panic attacks, Bild said, adding they included tranquilizer Lorazepam.

Germanwings parent Lufthansa has said Lubitz informed the flight school in 2009 that he had gone through a “previous episode of severe depression”.

That may affect compensation claims faced by Lufthansa although families of the victims could end up receiving vastly different payouts, say lawyers

One of the subjects to be considered by a new task force of experts, announced by Germany on Thursday, will be changes to medical and psychological tests for pilots, said the transport minister and head of the BDL German air industry association.

In its brief, to ensure safety standards are as high as possible, the task force will also look at changing a mechanism allowing the cockpit door to be locked from the inside - a step taken after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

BDL President Klaus-Peter Siegloch the issues should be discussed as quickly as possible.

“It is very important that we say we don’t want to wait until the end of the investigation, which can take a relatively long time for these kind of air catastrophes,” he said.

Slideshow (5 Images)

It is also open to discussing other issues arising from the French investigation, including making passengers show identification when flying in the Europe’s passport-free Schengen area of 26 countries.

Some ministers say it was not immediately clear exactly who was on board the crashed plane because of the Schengen system.

Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Susan Fenton and Giles Elgood

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