EASA proposes new mental fitness rules and support structure for pilots

EASA has published a proposal to the European Commission on new operational rules to better support pilot mental fitness.

The proposal is part of its Action Plan following the Germanwings Flight 9525 accident, in which a First Officer barricaded himself inside the cockpit and crashed an Airbus A320 airliner into the Alps, killing all 150 people onboard. In subsequent investigation, it was found that the pilot had suffered severe depression and had researched suicide methods and concealed an illness from his employer.

Released in a document known as an Opinion (Opinion 14/2016) , the proposals include the requirements that all pilots have access to a support programme, and creating a mandate for all airlines to perform a psychological assessment of pilots before the start of employment. Also recommended is Drug & Alcohol (D&A) testing of flight and cabin crew both upon employment, and after a serious incident or accident, after rehabilitation and return to work.

There will also be a complementary action to mandate random alcohol screening of flightcrew and cabin crew – those not already subject to a psychoactive-substance testing scheme – within ramp-inspection programmes, which EASA states will “ensure an additional safety barrier”.

The proposals address relevant safety recommendations made after the Flight 9525 accident by the EASA-led Task Force, as well as by the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA).

The full proposal can be found here.