Date
22 July 2017
A Lufthansa plane (background) carrying from France the remains of 44 Germans who died in the  Germanwings plane crash March 24 lands Tuesday in Duesseldorf, Germany. Photo: AFP
A Lufthansa plane (background) carrying from France the remains of 44 Germans who died in the Germanwings plane crash March 24 lands Tuesday in Duesseldorf, Germany. Photo: AFP

Airlines wrestle with pilot mental health options

Pilot screening and mental health measures aimed at preventing a recurrence of the Germanwings crash are rife with complications that will make them tough to implement, Reuters reported, citing airline industry executives.

International Air Transport Association director general Tony Tyler called the crash, in which the co-pilot locked the captain out of the cockpit and steered the plane into the French Alps, a “deliberate and horrible act by one of our own”.

Prosecutors have found evidence the co-pilot, who had suffered from severe depression, researched suicide methods and concealed an illness from his employer, sparking a debate on pilot screening and the relationship between medical doctors in the aviation industry and licensing authorities.

The industry and authorities in the United States and Europe are now debating doctor-patient confidentiality, pilot screenings and medical check-ups, but it will be some time before progress is made, the report said.

“The psychological testing and mental state of pilots — it gets more difficult the more you get into it,” Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr said during a panel session at an industry meeting in Miami. Lufthansa owns Germanwings.

Spohr has suggested random psychological tests but said there might never be a foolproof response.

Tyler said any measures must not stigmatize mental health problems and pilots had to be helped in a supportive way.

“If you penalize people with these problems, they will not declare them and may go under the radar, and that’s the last thing you want,” Tyler said.

The United States-based Civil Aviation Medical Association said random psychological tests and psychiatric screening had been discussed following the crash, but it was difficult to regulate spontaneous irrational behavior.

– Contact us at english@hkej.com

RA/FL

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe