Germany ‘lax’ in aviation medical requirements

Europe’s air safety regulator says it has found more than 10 incidents in recent years in which Germany appeared lax in following aviation medical requirements, prompting a European Commission investigation that is still under review.

“The exact nature remains confidential, but there were several findings, more than 10 in the last few years, in the aero-medical domain,” Dominique Fouda, a spokesman for EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, said yesterday.

The disclosure of lapses at Germany’s air-safety enforcement body are of interest because investigators have said Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot suspected of crashing a Germanwings plane, killing all 150 people aboard, had a psychosomatic condition and previous mental illness.

He was being treated by neurologists and psychiatrists and had told the flight training school run by Germanwings owner Deutsche Lufthansa about an episode of severe depression.

The German regulator, Luftfahrtbundesamt, “wasn’t informed about Lubitz’s medical background,” the agency said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The news about lapses in Germany’s handling of aviation medical issues prior to the Germanwings crash was first reported by the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

The authority sought information about the co-pilot on March 27, three days after the Germanwings crash in the French Alps, from the Lufthansa Aeromedical Centre in Frankfurt. Lubitz was found fit to fly by Lufthansa’s medical facility in 2009, and the regulator was informed in keeping with rules, Luftfahrtbundesamt said.

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