Germanwings crash: Families of victims sue US flight school

Andreas Lubitz , pictured competing in a half marathon Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Lubitz had a long history of mental health problems

Families of those killed when the co-pilot of a Germanwings jet crashed it into the French Alps are suing the US flight school where he was trained.

The claim alleges the Airline Training Center of Arizona (ATCA) failed to properly screen Andreas Lubitz.

In March last year Lubitz locked the plane's captain out of the cabin before ploughing it into the Alps. All 150 people on board were killed.

He had struggled for many years with mental health problems.

Investigators found that weeks before the crash a doctor had urged him to attend a psychiatric hospital but his employer was never alerted.

Lubitz received training at the ATCA, owned by Germanwings' parent company Lufthansa, from 2010-2011.

'Suicide time bomb'

The lawsuit, filed in Phoenix, Arizona, alleges the school was negligent in admitting him by failing to discover his medical history.

Lubitz's past made him a "suicide time bomb, triggered to go off under the ordinary stresses of life, particularly the kind of stresses a commercial pilot routinely faces", Marc S Moller, a lawyer with the firm that filed the suit, said in a statement.

Families of 80 of the victims are involved in the legal bid, which also involves lawyers in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

A spokeswoman for Lufthansa said the action had "no chance of success". The school is yet to comment.

Victims' families last year called an offer of compensation from the German-based carrier "insulting".

A case in the US offers a potentially higher payout than one in Europe, but analysts queried whether it would succeed given the crash happened overseas and did not involve an American airline.