Mar 29, 2015 09:39 PM EDT
Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had an unspecified illness that he tried to hide from his employers, the authorities said Friday. Prosecutors said that several doctor's notes indicating that Lubitz was unfit to work were found at his home, but they have yet to reveal the nature of his affliction. The German hospital where Lubitz had gone twice in the past two months simply stated that he had not been there to get treated for depression.
Considering that no political or religious documents were found at Lubitz's apartment, experts are speculating about Mr. Lubitz's mental health and whether his inability to work led him to purposely drive the jetliner into a mountainside, taking 149 other lives with him.
Whether with suicidal or murderous intentions, Lubitz is said to have crashed the plane deliberately, as evidenced by the cockpit voice recording in which Lubitz is heard breathing steadily and normally as the captain desperately pounds the door to be let back in.
According to Quartz, Lubitz is unfortunately not the first to have committed a pilot suicide. Here is a list of at least three other similar events:
In 2013, a pilot brought down a Mozambique Airlines flight. As with the Germanwings tragedy, the co-pilot was locked out of the cockpit and could not get back in. The pilot then altered the autopilot to bring it to below ground level and switched it to maximum speed. Pounding on the cockpit door was heard, and the pilot never called for help. All 33 passengers aboard were killed.
In 1999, an EgyptAir flight crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, leaving 216 passengers dead. According to Vox, most agree that the pilot deliberately brought down the plane. As in previous events, one of the pilots excused himself to go to the bathroom. In the black box recording, the co-pilot, Gamil El Batouty, is heard saying repeatedly, "I rely on God. I rely on God. I rely on God. I rely on God." The captain eventually made his back way in the cockpit and was heard saying, "What is this? Did you shut the engine[s]?" As the plane crashed, the captain was heard trying to right the plane, saying, "Pull with me. Pull with me."
In 1997, Silk Air Flight 185 crashed in Indonesia, killing 104 people on board. Indonesian never determined an official reason for the crash, though US investigators believed the captain may have switched off the flight recorders and caused the plane to go down after his co-pilot had left the cockpit. At the time of the crash, investigators noted, the pilot had been experiencing financial difficulties and had work-related problems.
Despite these tragic events, deliberate plane crashes are still rare. A 2014 FAA report states that eight out of 2,758 fatal aviation accidents from 2003 to 2012 were suicides.
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