The girlfriend of a Briton who died in the French Alps air disaster has told how he switched flights “at the last moment” and said she did not blame the co-pilot who crashed the jet.
Paul Bramley, 28, died when Andreas Lubitz locked the Germanwings flight’s captain out of the cockpit before flying the plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 people on board.
But girlfriend Anneli Tiirik said she did not blame Lubitz, 27, who had hidden a sick note on the day of the crash and was found to have researched suicide methods in the days leading up to it.
The 23-year-old said: “I cannot hate or blame someone for being sick. Instead of blaming sick people and trying to understand their motives from the perspective of a healthy mind, we should concentrate on changing the system that enables such people to be in positions of power.”
The music student, who began dating Mr Bramley in 2011, said she hoped airlines would bring in greater checks, such as brain scans, to prevent similar disasters in future.
She said she had waited for Mr Bramley at Manchester airport, having flown in herself from Estonia, before later learning of the crash.
“He was originally meant to land in Manchester on the Monday night, but he changed his flight at the last moment for Tuesday. That was all the information his mum and I had, because he had switched off his mobile phone.
“I had a bad feeling because he would never have left me alone waiting like that. I had been there for a couple of hours when one of his relatives came to pick me up. She stepped out of the car with tissues in her hand. My heart sank and I knew the worst had happened.”
Originally from Hull, Mr Bramley was studying hospitality and hotel management at Ceasar Ritz College in Lucerne and had been set to start an internship on 1 April. He had just finished his first year at the college and was flying home from a few days holiday with friends in Barcelona when he was killed.
The other Britons killed were Martyn Matthews, 50, from Wolverhampton, and seven-month-old Julian Pracz-Bandres, from Manchester, who died alongside his mother, Marina Bandres Lopez Belio, 37, originally from Spain.
Many UK airlines changed their rules in the wake of the crash to ensure two people were in the cockpit at all times.
Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that stressed pilots warned air chiefs about a possible rise in cockpit suicides a month before the Germanwings disaster.
More than 6,600 captains and first officers from across Europe were asked about about their working conditions.
A subsequent report uncovered “abysmal” working conditions and claims that many stressed pilots were becoming “ticking timebombs”.
The European Commission-funded study, which included more than 660 British pilots in its questioning, insisted that financial pressures, a lack of job security and excessive working hours were leaving many airmen and women depressed. One pilot confirmed colleagues were becoming suicidal over stressful working conditions.
The study also uncovered grave concerns about cost-cutting taking precedence over safety regulations and revealed that one in every five commercial pilots flying in Europe works on pay-to-fly, agency or self-employment terms – casting doubt on the quality and extensiveness of mental health assessments performed on pilots.
A spokesman for the British Airline Pilots Association confirmed pilots’ working conditions were a concern.