With recent airline incidents in mind, a joint FAA and industry group has recommended a study of airline pilot mental health.
The Commercial Aviation Safety Team composed of FAA and industry representatives recommended the move in the wake of the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash (attributed to the actions of a suicidal copilot left alone in the cockpit), and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (which remains missing; a deliberate act by the flight crew has not been ruled out).
The Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee will issue recommendations within six months, the FAA announced in a news release May 27. The committee will include industry experts, regulators, and health professionals tasked to examine issues including the awareness and reporting of emotional and mental health issues, the methods used to evaluate pilot emotional and mental health, and barriers to reporting such issues.
The committee meetings will not be open to the public, the FAA said, and the results of the effort could prompt changes “to medical methods, aircraft design, policies and procedures, pilot training and testing, training for Aerospace Medical Examiners, or potential actions that may be taken by professional, airline, or union groups.”
The FAA currently requires first class medical certificate holders to be re-examined every six to 12 months, depending on the pilot’s age.