Update: The Germanwings plane crash investigation now seems to be re-focusing on the background and personality of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. The co-pilot of the plane is now suspected of purposefully locking the pilot out of the cockpit and crashing the plane.
Lubitz seemingly had an excellent flying record with 630 hours of cockpit time. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records he had met or exceeded all of its pilot certification standards. He had recently passed Lufthansa security checks with no problems being highlighted and no terrorist motivations or associations are currently suspected.
One episode that is being looked at more carefully is a period when Lubitz interrupted his flight training in 2009 and was diagnosed with ‘a severe depressive episode’ that forced him to repeat some sections of his training. He went through a one-and-half-year period of psychiatric treatment, according to a report by German newspaper Bild. According to satellite data it also appears that someone had purposefully adjusted the plane altitude control from 11,582m to 33m – this is the minimum possible setting, minutes before the crash.
Meanwhile many airlines have rushed to change their cockpit regulations, implementing a minimum number of staff on the flight deck as two, in an attempt to protect flights from suspected suicide attempts. Three previous commercial flights are suspected of ‘deliberate’ crashes in the last 20 years.