FBI investigation reveals suicidal Germanwings pilot failed key training milestones

Andreas Lubitz struggled with his flying skills.
(Image credit: Getty Images/Stringer)

The Germanwings co-pilot who locked the captain out of the cockpit in order to intentionally fly the aircraft into the side of a mountain last year had experienced notable difficulties during training, but was promoted anyway, The Associated Press reports. FBI interviews with Andreas Lubitz's flight instructors reveal that Lubitz failed two tests, including once due to a "situational awareness issue," likely meaning he got distracted by something and stopped paying close attention to the plane. Matthias Kippenberg, the president and CEO of the Airline Training Center Arizona, told the FBI the failure wasn't in itself noteworthy because students are able to retake their tests.

Lubitz was "not an ace pilot," one of his instructors, Juergen Theerkorn said. Lubitz also struggled to divide his attention between instruments on the plane, or concentrate on what was happening outside the aircraft, another instructor said. Lubitz was supposed to begin flight school in Arizona in September 2009, but due to a "long illness," he did not begin until September 2010. German authorities turned down his applications for a pilot medical certificate twice before July 2009 due to his history of depression, a technicality his school apparently hadn't checked.

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