WASHINGTON – The families of victims killed last year when a suicidal pilot flew an airliner into a mountainside in the French Alps filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the U.S. flight school where the pilot was trained, alleging the school failed to properly screen his medical background.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix against the Airline Training Center of Arizona. It’s owned by Lufthansa, which is also the parent company of Germanwings, a regional Europe carrier that employed pilot Andreas Lubitz.
On March 24, 2015, Lubitz locked Germanwings Flight 9525’s captain out of the cockpit and deliberately set the plane on a collision course with the mountainside. All 150 people aboard, including Lubitz, were killed.
While training in Europe with Lufthansa, Lubitz had been suspended from his academic course work for nearly 10 months while he sought treatment for depression. In 2010, after returning to Lufthansa, he was sent to the U.S. for flight training.
Had the Arizona school screened Lubitz, it would have discovered that he’d been previously hospitalized for severe depression and treated with medications that would have prohibited him from flying, according to the suit, which was filed on behalf of more than 80 families.
The flight school’s president, Matthias Kippenberg, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.