FAA to Examine Mental Health of Pilots
On May 27, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that they will begin to study the mental and emotional health of commercial pilots. The FAA will team with government members, air carriers, and medical professionals specializing in aerospace medicine to make these assessments.
This decision came just months after the Germanwings tragedy, and just over a year after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines’ aircraft.
According to the LA Times, groups representing pilots and airlines, including the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), said they will cooperate with the study.
The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents 51,000 pilots at 30 airlines, issued this statement: “We look forward to working alongside other key stakeholders in evaluating the extensive procedures and processes currently in place that provide a thorough monitoring of crewmembers in the United States.”
Meanwhile, the IATA stated that “safety is the industry’s top priority,” and that they are “pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this important initiative on pilot fitness.”
U.S. pilots regularly underwent extensive medical screenings with FAA-approved physicians once or twice a year, but the recent tragedies have highlighted the importance of a pilot’s mental and emotional well-being.
Based on these studies, the FAA could consider making changes on all fronts, including aircraft design, policies and procedures, pilot training and testing, and medical methods.