Lufthansa: Co-pilot disclosed earlier "severe depression"

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Co-Pilot 'Had Suicidal Thoughts'

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - Lufthansa knew that the co-pilot of the passenger plane that crashed in the French Alps last week had suffered from an episode of "severe depression" before he finished his flight training with the German airline.

The airline said Tuesday that it has found emails that Andreas Lubitz sent to the Lufthansa flight school in 2009 when he resumed his training in Bremen after an interruption of several months.

In them, he informed the school that he had suffered a "previous episode of severe depression," which had since subsided.

The airline said Lubitz subsequently passed all medical checks and that it has provided the documents to prosecutors. It declined to make any further comment.

French authorities say voice recordings indicate Lubitz, 27, locked the other pilot out of the cockpit and deliberately crashed the Airbus A320 in the French Alps on March 24. All 150 people aboard Flight 9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf died.

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Lufthansa: Co-pilot disclosed earlier "severe depression"
In this photo released today, co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525 Andreas Lubitz participates in the Airport Hamburg 10-mile race on September 13, 2009 in Hamburg, Germany. Lubitz is suspected of having deliberately piloted Germanwings flight 4U 9525 into a mountain in southern France on March 24, 2015 and killing all 150 people on board, including himself, in the worst air disaster in Europe in recent history. (Photo by Getty Images)
French authorities have indicated they believe the co-pilot of the GermanWings Airbus A320 deliberately took over the aircraft on Tuesday,crashing the plane on purpose and killing all 158 passengers and crew. The planned flight, from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, took a path over the southern French Alps near Dignes where the wreckage of the plane was found. At first GermanWings authorities expressed surprise and dismay in social media with the French authorities conclusion adding they believed it was too early in the investigation. A Lufthansa press conference later on Thursday, held in Germany, by Chief Executive Carsten Spohr stated that it appeared the co-pilot had prevented the pilot from entering the cockpit after a bathroom break. It leaves us absolutely speechless, he said. I wouldnt not have been able to imagine that the situation would have got even worse. ----- This social media photo of Andreas Lubitz near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was found on his Facebook Page.
FRANKFURT, GERMANY - MARCH 14: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (EDITOR'S NOTE: This photo is available exclusively through Getty Images) In this photo released today, co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525 Andreas Lubitz participates in the Frankfurt City Half-Marathon on March 14, 2010 in Frankfurt, Germany. Lubitz is suspected of having deliberately piloted Germanwings flight 4U 9525 into a mountain in southern France on March 24, 2015 and killing all 150 people on board, including himself, in the worst air disaster in Europe in recent history. (Photo by Getty Images)
MONTABAUR, GERMANY - MARCH 26: A policeman carries bags out of the residence of the parents of Andreas Lubitz, co-pilot on Germanwings flight 4U9525, on March 26, 2015 in Montabaur, Germany. French authorities confirmed that Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France two days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Authorities are pursuing the possibility that Lubitz might have acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to is destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
MONTABAUR, GERMANY - MARCH 26: Police carry computer, a box and bags out of the residence of the parents of Andreas Lubitz, co-pilot on Germanwings flight 4U9525, on March 26, 2015 in Montabaur, Germany. French authorities confirmed that Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France two days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Authorities are pursuing the possibility that Lubitz might have acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to is destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
MONTABAUR, GERMANY - MARCH 26: Police carry computer, a box and bags out of the residence of the parents of Andreas Lubitz, co-pilot on Germanwings flight 4U9525, on March 26, 2015 in Montabaur, Germany. French authorities confirmed that Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France two days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Authorities are pursuing the possibility that Lubitz might have acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to is destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
Investigators carry boxes from the apartment of Germanwings airliner jet co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, in Duesseldorf, Germany, Thursday March 26, 2015. On Thursday, French prosecutors said Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, "intentionally" crashed the jet into the side of a mountain Tuesday in the French Alps. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr signs a condolence book for the victims of the Germanwings plane crash in France as he arrives for the annual shareholders meeting of the Lufthansa Group in Hamburg, Germany, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
FILE - In this March 26, 2015 file photo, rescue workers work on debris of the Germanwings jet at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France. The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 4525 tried a controlled descent on the previous flight that morning to Barcelona before the plane crashed into a mountainside in March on its way back to Germany, French air accident investigators said in a new report released Wednesday May, 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, File)
In this photo provided Friday, April 3, 2015 by the French Interior Ministry, French emergency rescue services work among debris of the Germanwings passenger jet at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France. The co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings flight repeatedly sped up the plane as he used the automatic pilot to descend the A320 into the Alps, the French air accident investigation agency said Friday. (AP Photo/Yves Malenfer, Ministere de l'Interieur)
In this photo provided Monday, April 13, 2015 by the French Interior Ministry, debris of the Germanwings passenger jet are gathered near the crash site in Seyne-les-Alpes, France. The foreign ministers of Spain, France and Germany attended a wreath-laying ceremony Monday at Barcelona's airport in memory of the 150 victims of the Germanwings plane crash last month in the French Alps. (Yves Malenfer/French Interior Ministry via AP)
In this photo provided Monday, April 13, 2015 by the French Interior Ministry, French emergency rescue services collect debris of the Germanwings passenger jet at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France. The foreign ministers of Spain, France and Germany have attended a wreath-laying ceremony Monday at Barcelona's airport in memory of the 150 victims of the Germanwings plane crash last month in the French Alps. (Yves Malenfer/French Interior Ministry via AP)
In this photo provided Monday, April 13, 2015 by the French Interior Ministry, a rescue worker stands among bags filled with debris of the Germanwings passenger jet, gathered near the crash site in Seyne-les-Alpes, France. The foreign ministers of Spain, France and Germany have attended a wreath-laying ceremony Monday at Barcelona's airport in memory of the 150 victims of the Germanwings plane crash last month in the French Alps. (Yves Malenfer/French Interior Ministry via AP)
In this photo provided Monday, April 13, 2015 by the French Interior Ministry, a helicopter carries bags loaded with debris of the Germanwings passenger jet gathered near the crash site in Seyne-les-Alpes, France. The foreign ministers of Spain, France and Germany have attended a wreath-laying ceremony Monday at Barcelona's airport in memory of the 150 victims of the Germanwings plane crash last month in the French Alps. (Yves Malenfer/French Interior Ministry via AP)
In this photo provided Monday, April 13, 2015 by the French Interior Ministry, debris of the Germanwings passenger jet are gathered near the crash site in Seyne-les-Alpes, France. The foreign ministers of Spain, France and Germany attended a wreath-laying ceremony Monday at Barcelona's airport in memory of the 150 victims of the Germanwings plane crash last month in the French Alps. (Yves Malenfer/French Interior Ministry via AP)
150 candles are placed in the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, western Germany, Friday, April 17, 2015. A mourning ceremony will be held in the Cathedral in memory of the 150 victims of the Germanwings plane crash last month in the French Alps. (Oliver Berg/Pool Photo via AP)
Police hold media away from the house where Andreas Lubitz lived in Montabaur, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2015. Lubitz was the copilot on flight Germanwings 9525 that crashed with 150 people on board on Tuesday in the French Alps. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: Members of the public take part in a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings flight 4U9525 passenger plane crash at the Dom cathedral on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: Lower Saxony Governor Stephan Weil (2nd R) attends a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings flight 4U9525 passenger plane crash at the Dom cathedral on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: German President Joachim Gauck takes part in a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings flight 4U9525 passenger plane crash at the Dom cathedral on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: A memorial of flowers and candles can be seen on the a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: A memorial of flowers and candles can be seen on the a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: People watch the ecumenical memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne in front of the Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: A memorial of flowers and candles can be seen on the a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: Guests arrive for a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 of the victims' relatives, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims who were killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: A black ribbon showing the flight number of Germanwings flight 4U9525 is displayed at the Dom cathedral, ahead of a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: North Rhine-Westphalia Governor Hannelore Kraft and Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr, ahead of a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 of the victims' relatives, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims who were killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
Germanwings chief operating officer (COO) and member of the board Oliver Wagner holds a press conference on March 30, 2015 in Marseille, southern France about the creation of a family assistance center for the relatives of victims of a Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard. French prosecutors believe that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately flew Flight 4U 9525 into a mountainside near Seyne-les-Alpes. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
DIGNE-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - MARCH 28: Bishop Jean-Philippe Nault (C) leads a service for local residents remembering the victims of Germanwings Airbus fight near the crash site at Notre Dame du Bourg cathedral on March 28, 2015 in Digne-les-Bains, France. French authorities confirmed that Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France four days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Lubitz hid signs of illness and it is thought he acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to its destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LA VERNET, FRANCE - MARCH 28: Relatives stand at a monument to honour the victims of Germanwings flight 4U9525 in front of the mountains near the crash site on March 26, 2015 in Le Vernet, France. France. French authorities confirmed that Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France four days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Lubitz hid signs of illness and it is thought he acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to its destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LA VERNET, FRANCE - MARCH 28: Relatives stand at a monument to honour the victims of Germanwings flight 4U9525 in front of the mountains near the crash site on March 26, 2015 in Le Vernet, France. France. French authorities confirmed that Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France four days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Lubitz hid signs of illness and it is thought he acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to its destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
A helicopter of the French gendarmerie flies over Seyne-les-Alpes on March 28, 2015, near the site where a Germanwings flight crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard. French prosecutors believe that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately flew Flight 4U 9525 into a mountainside near Seyne. AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
A helicopter of the French gendarmerie flies over Seyne-les-Alpes on March 28, 2015, near the site where a Germanwings flight crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard. French prosecutors believe that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately flew Flight 4U 9525 into a mountainside near Seyne. AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
Flowers and candles have been left to commemorate a woman, a victim of the Germanwings plane crash from Halle, eastern Germany on March 28, 2015. French prosecutors believe that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately flew Flight 4U 9525 into a mountainside near Seyne. AFP PHOTO / DPA / HENDRIK SCHMIDT +++ GERMANY OUT +++ (Photo credit should read HENDRIK SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
LE VERNET, FRANCE - MARCH 28: Policemen stand in front of a memorial stone for the victims of the Germanwings Airbus flight near to the crash site on March 28, 2015 in Le Vernet, France. French authorities confirmed that Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France four days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Lubitz hid signs of illness and it is thought he acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to its destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LE VERNET, FRANCE - MARCH 28: Policemen stand in front of a memorial stone for the victims of the Germanwings Airbus flight near to the crash site on March 28, 2015 in Le Vernet, France. French authorities confirmed that Andreas Lubitz was alone in the cockpit during the rapid descent of flight 4U9525 until it crashed into mountains in southern France four days ago, killing all 150 people on board. Lubitz hid signs of illness and it is thought he acted deliberately in steering the aircraft to its destruction. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
Workers from the Delphi factory, who lost two colleagues in the Germanwings flight crash, grieve after a minute of silence in Sant Cugat del Valles, near Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Germanwings Flight 9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf crashed Tuesday, April 24, in France. A total of 67 Germans, many Spaniards, and people from Australia, Japan, Israel, Turkey, Denmark and the Netherlands are believed to be among the 150 on board who died. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
A Lufthansa employee signs in a condolence book in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, for the 150 victims that died in the Germanwings plane crash in the French alps on the way from Barcelona to Duesseldorf on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
A candle has been placed in front of the home of the family of Andreas Lubitz in Montabaur, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2015. Lubitz was the copilot on flight Germanwings 9525 that crashed with 150 people on board on Tuesday in the French Alps. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
A police officer stands in front of an apartment building where they believe Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of the crashed Germanwings airliner jet, lived in Duesseldorf, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2015, during an investigation into the crash in the French Alps on Tuesday that killed 150 people. Lubitz barricaded himself in the cockpit and "intentionally" sent the plane full speed into a mountain, ignoring the pilot's frantic pounding on the door and the screams of terror from passengers, a prosecutor said Thursday. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Gardengnomes sit in the garden of the house of the family of Andreas Lubitz in Montabaur, Germany, Friday, March 27, 2015. Lubitz was the copilot on flight Germanwings 9525 that crashed with 150 people on board on Tuesday in the French Alps. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A candle is lit in front of a board with the flight number of Germanwings plane 4U92524 and the lettering 'We are in mourning' in English, German and Spanish during the annual general meeting of Lufthansa Group at the Congress Center in Hamburg, northern Germany, on April 29, 2015. German airline Lufthansa holds it annual shareholders' meeting in the shadow of last month's Germanwings crash in the French Alps which killed 150 people. AFP PHOTO / CARMEN JASPERSEN (Photo credit should read CARMEN JASPERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - APRIL 17: A memorial of flowers and candles can be seen on the a memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Germanwings passenger plane crash, on April 17, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. Approximately 1,400 people, including 500 family member of victims, will attend the service to pay their respects to the 149 victims killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposefully locked himself in the cockpit and piloted the plane at high speed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24, instantly killing everyone on board, including himself. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
A program and a carving of wood are seen during the memorial service for the 150 people killed in the Germanwings plane crash in the Cathedral in Cologne, western Germany on April 17, 2015. About 1,500 guests are expected for the service, among them 500 relatives of the victims, in northern Europe's largest Gothic church, which will also be broadcast livCe on screens outside the cathedral and to viewers nationwide. AFP PHOTO / POOL / OLIVER BERG (Photo credit should read OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Anonymous stand near a stela commemorating the victims of the March 24 Germanwings Airbus A320 crash in the village of Le Vernet, southeastern France, on April 6, 2015 after a ceremony with victims' relatives. A German Airbus A320 of the low-cost carrier Germanwings crashed in the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 people on board. AFP PHOTO / JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET (Photo credit should read JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images)
People mourn at the memorial of flowers and candles in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school in Haltern am See, western Germany on April 1, 2015, from where some of the Germanwings plane crash victims came. A church service will take place in the small western German town of Haltern to remember 16 pupils and two teachers from the same school who were killed in the Germanwings air disaster as they returned from an exchange trip to Barcelona. AFP PHOTO / SASCHA SCHUERMANN (Photo credit should read SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
National flags of countries of the victims, a teddy bear, books and different items put by people, are pictured near a stele in memory of the victims of the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash, in Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps, on March 30, 205. Investigators sifting through the wreckage of the doomed plane in the French Alps were forced on March 30 to resume the hunt on foot as bad weather hampered helicopter flights. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-PERRE CLATOT (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)
A stone reading 'RIP 4U 9525 in deep sorrow' lays amidst a memorial of flowers and candles in front of the headquarters of German airline Germanwings in Cologne, western Germany, on March 30, 2015. Officials say that the co-pilot of a Germanwings A320 Airbus plane that crashed on March 24, 2015 in the French Alps locked the captain out of the cockpit of the Airbus jet and deliberately crashed Flight 4U 9525, bound for Duesseldorf from Barcelona. The plane is said to have crashed at a speed of 700 kilometres (430 miles) per hour, killing all 150 on board instantly. AFP PHOTO / DPA / OLIVER BERG +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view of the University hospital were Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who flew his Airbus into a French mountainside, had been treated, is pictured on March 27, 2015, in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who French authorities say appeared to deliberately crash a Germanwings flight, was a life-long flying enthusiast with no apparent psychological problems or terrorist links. into the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard, hid a serious illness from the airline, prosecutors said Friday amid reports he was severely depressed. AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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The disclosure that Lubitz had told the airline he had suffered from depression before he was hired in September, 2013 at Lufthansa's budget arm Germanwings is another blow to the company's reputation. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr had said that Lubitz passed all tests and had been pronounced fit to fly.

The revelation adds to questions about how much Lufthansa and its insurers will pay in damages for the passengers who died.

It also underlines questions about how thoroughly the aviation industry and government regulators screen pilots for psychological problems.

German prosecutors say Lubitz received psychotherapy before obtaining his pilot's license and that medical records from that time referred to "suicidal tendencies." They have given no dates for his treatment, but said visits to doctors since then showed no record of any suicidal tendencies or aggression against others.

They also have found torn-up sick notes from doctors, including one that would have kept Lubitz off work on the day of the crash.

The latest disclosure "really does suggest a potential problem with the airline's oversight of this aviator," says Alan E. Diehl, a former air safety investigator with the NTSB and a former scientist for human performance at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Diehl says the global shortage of pilots might be leading to lax hiring standards. Every week, there are nearly 30 new jets rolling off assembly lines. Each one requires airlines to hire and train at least 10 to 12 new pilots.

"Maybe some of these carriers, not just Germanwings, are taking people that they wouldn't normally take," Diehl says.

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration in 2010 starting allowing some pilots who are taking medication for mild to moderate depression to continue flying on a case-by-case basis. Pilots taking drugs like Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro were allowed to fly if granted a special medical certificate. One prerequisite was the successful treatment on the medication for at least 12 months.

Dr. Warren Silberman, manager of medical certification for the FAA until the end of 2011, said pilots in the U.S. can fly again even after having suicidal thoughts.

"It really would depend on what the psychiatrist or psychologist that he saw wrote, and what his symptoms were," Silberman said. "The minute he declares he is depressed, he is grounded. And if he goes on medication, he's definitely grounded."

After treatment, "If you were doing better after the depressive episode and the (doctor's) note was favorable, then the FAA would likely clear you," he said. Admitting suicidal thoughts would probably mean a longer period of being grounded, and the pilot's case would probably wind up in the hands of the FAA's chief psychiatrist in Washington, he said.

Silberman said that over time pilots become more willing to discuss their mental state with their doctors, and there are employee-assistance programs to help them. Still, pilots often hide their medical problems.

Then there's liability.

The fact Lufthansa knew of Lubitz's illness only worsens the airline's legal position, even if cases are settled and not brought to trial.

Airlines on international flights are required to compensate relatives of victims for proven damages of up to a limit of about $157,000 - regardless of what caused the crash. However, higher compensation is possible if a carrier is held liable.

"I think as a practical and legal matter Lufthansa is at this point liable for the accident," said Brian Alexander, an international aviation attorney with Kreindler & Kreindler in New York.

"This makes the case, which was already indefensible, even more so," said Jonathan C. Reiter, a U.S. attorney who has represented family members of a person who died in a 1999 EgyptAir crash investigators say was caused by the co-pilot, as well as people aboard a 2012 JetBlue flight where the pilot had a mental breakdown and had to be restrained. That flight landed safely.

"They're responsible. That's the end of it," said Reiter. "They can't say, we couldn't possibly have known. They did know."

In Frankfurt, Lufthansa spokeswoman Kerstin Lau said insurers have already reserved $300 million to deal with "all costs arising in connection with the case."

Lufthansa offered immediate aid last week of up to 50,000 euros ($54,250) per passenger to relatives of the victims. Those payments are separate from eventual compensation payments.

___

Lowy contributed from Washington, DC. AP staff writers David Koenig in Dallas, Scott Mayerowitz in New York and Geir Moulson in Berlin also contributed.




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