Widower Blames Pilot School for Air Disaster

PHOENIX (CN) – A suburban Phoenix airline training center failed to report its concerns about the mental illness of the German pilot who deliberately crashed a commercial jet into the Alps last year, a widower claims in court.
     David Friday lost his 68-year-old wife Carol and 29-year-old son Greig when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz crashed Lufthansa/Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps a year ago after locking the captain out of the cockpit. All 150 people aboard died.
     Friday claims the Airline Training Center Arizona, of Goodyear, “knew that Lubitz suffered [from] mental illness and declared Lubitz ‘unflyable.'”
     Lubitz spent nearly a year training at the school in Goodyear, west of Phoenix, Friday says in his March 29 federal lawsuit. Friday’s wife and son were taking a vacation when they died in the March 24, 2015 crash in the French Alps.
     Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, outsourced its flight training in 1997 to LFTG, according to the lawsuit. LFTG owns and operates flight schools in Europe and the one in Goodyear, and Lufthansa “owns and controls the planes that ATCA uses for flight training,” the complaint states.
     Pilots who train at Lufthansa’s school in Bremen, Germany are required to complete part of their training in Goodyear, Friday says.
     Lubitz began his flight training in September 2008 in Bremen, became severely depressed two months in and had suicidal ideations. The training center allowed Lubitz to suspend his training to receive treatment. During treatment, “Lubitz made several ‘no suicide’ pacts with his treating psychiatrist, was hospitalized and took the anti-depressants: Cipralex and Mirtazapin,” the lawsuit states.
     Lubitz resumed training in August 2009, completed it in October 2010 and began training in Goodyear the next month.
     “During his training, ATCA questioned Lubitz’s stability,” the complaint states. “Several post-crash accounts reveal that at least one person at ATCA declared Lubitz ‘unflyable.'”
     But Friday says the training center did not document the finding in Lubitz’s training records, which typically follow a student throughout his or her professional career.
     Lubitz finished his training in Goodyear in March 2011, and worked for Lufthansa as a flight attendant until Dec. 31, 2013. He began to work for Germanwings in January 2014 and became a Germanwings co-pilot in June 2014, according to the complaint.
     It says that a review of Lubitz’s medical history after the crash showed he “suffered a psychotic depressive episode comparable to the episode that he suffered during flight training. When he killed himself and the passengers and crew, Lubitz was taking anti-depressant medications including Mirtazapine 15 mg and Lorazepam 1 mg.”
     A spokeswoman for Lufthansa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
     Friday seeks damages for his wife’s and son’s pain and suffering, negligence and wrongful death, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and loss of consortium.
     He is represented by Jerry Skinner with LHD Lawyers in Cincinnati, and by the firm’s home office in Sydney, Australia. The Fridays were Australian citizens. Attorney Skinner was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

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