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How pilot’s psychological disorder leads to air crash


Pilots in the cockpit

Pilots in the cockpit

The French air investigation agency BEA, heading inquiries into the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps, has advocated for new requirements for doctors treating pilots, and new measures to keep pilots from hiding mental health issues.

According Aerotime, a recently released report by the agency reveals that the co-pilot of Germanwings flight from Spain to Germany, Andreas Lubitz had been prescribed to use anti-depressants since 2008 and had been referred to a psychiatric hospital two weeks before the accident.

However, the airline was never notified due to privacy protection rules. The mental health condition of Lubitz is believed to have been a key determinant in the accident.

“The collision with the ground was due to the deliberate and planned action of the co-pilot who decided to commit suicide while alone in the cockpit. The process for medical certification of pilots, in particular self-reporting in case of decrease in medical fitness between two periodic medical evaluations, did not succeed in preventing the co-pilot, who was experiencing mental disorder with psychotic symptoms, from exercising the privilege of his license”, says the report.

The agency recommended the introducing a mandatory mental health assessment for pilots, who might be finalised and ruled out “in two or three years”, said the Executive Director of the EASA, Patrick Ky.

BEA is urging for better regulations for doctors treating pilots, and new measures to keep pilots from hiding mental health issues to prevent further calamities. It added that pilots would be supported as well as guided, either way, they will be provided with help in order to ensure flight safety. Pilots would be allowed to return to flying duties, where applicable.

The BEA said that laws have to be changed so that medical workers must report concerns about pilots’ mental health to authorities, but also acknowledged that its is difficult to balance rights to medical privacy and public safety, and added they don’t want to stigmatize people, who are suffering depression.

The report of French investigators says doctor wanted co-pilot Andreas Lubitz to be hospitalised two weeks prior to the crash. Prosecutors believe that Germanwings co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who had a history of severe depression, deliberately propelled his Airbus jet into a mountainside on March 24, killing all 150 people on board.

The report said that Lubitz had begun to show symptoms that could be consistent with a psychotic depressive episode in December 2014. He had previously been treated for depression and had seen 41 doctors in five years, including seven in the month before the crash.

Previous information had shown that Lubitz had eyesight problems since 2008 and concealed his illness from his employer, sparking a debate on supervision and medical secrecy.

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