Germanwings Investigation Will Take A "Long Time"

Lufthansa executives visited the final resting site of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 on Wednesday, more than a week after the Airbus carrying 150 passengers and crew crashed into a mountain en route to Düsseldorf, Germany. Lufthansa and Germanwings CEOs Carsten Spohr and Thomas Winkelmann paid tribute to the victims, leaving wreaths at the site of the wreckage in a somber moment of silence. But when it comes to finding a reason for the tragedy, the airline executives admitted these questions may remain unanswered.

"It will take a long, long time for all of us to understand" the motive behind the crash, Spohr told reporters on Tuesday in a press conference at Seyne-les-Alpes, the village in the southern French Alps near where the ill-fated flight went down. He added that he and Winkelmann are "learning more and more everyday," but could not comment on some of the latest reports, including those focused on the mental health of Flight 9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz.

NPR's Esme Nicholson reported that Spohr deflected questions about Lubitz's alleged depression. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Lufthansa received an email back in 2009 about the pilot's "episode of severe depression," which he endured during flight training, NPR reported.

Although Lufthansa was made aware of Lubitz's depressive episode, which allegedly led him to take a short break from flight training, the airline has repeatedly said the pilot cleared his medical checks in recent years. Germanwings also confirmed in a statement last week that Lubitz did not submit a "sick note" he recently received from a doctor. The note reportedly declared Lubitz unfit for work the day of the crash.

"[This] would support the assumption that the deceased had concealed his illness towards his employer and his occupational environment," Germanwings said in a statement last week.

On Tuesday, Germanwings and Lufthansa announced that they have turned over training and medical documents about Lubitz to prosecutors in Düsseldorf. "Lufthansa will continue to provide the investigating authorities with its full and unlimited support," the company said in a statement.

The two CEOs of Germanwings and Lufthansa also released this joint condolence statement on Monday to the families and friends of the victims. The airline group also expressed their gratitude to the search teams currently scaling the treacherous terrain for debris and human remains.

Spohr again thanked the recovery workers on Wednesday, telling reporters:

We have the greatest respect for the dedication and the professionalism with which people are working here to investigate and process this tragedy. We appreciate the immense psychological and physical strain that these helpers are working under. We cannot thank them enough.

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