Germanwings Crash Prompts FAA to Revisit Mental Health Guidelines

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“The U.S. government is taking steps that may change the way airlines vet employees for mental illness,” reported Bloomberg News. “The Federal Aviation Administration has created a panel of government and industry officials to recommend ways to improve the evaluation of pilots’ fitness to fly.”

“It is one of the most comprehensive reassessments ever of pilot medical rules, said a person familiar with the matter, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly,” reported Bloomberg.

Germanwings Pilot Suicide Prompts FAA Review of Medical Test (Bloomberg, May 20, 2015)

12 COMMENTS

    • Except that they are likely not to go against the drugs only – they will likely start “screening” people or bs like this… which even if these tests were any good would be useless since people would lie to keep the job. Unless FAA is actually run by some reasonable people it’s not going to improve anything.

      Btw, except from rare instances the legislation put forward in a case of one isolated tragic accident is usually a bad law which is not meant to prevent such disasters as much as to forward some agenda that would otherwise not get through. Also known as “shock doctrine”.

  1. Then you might as well ban pilots who are on any kind of meds from flying since many of them can also have adverse side effects affecting cognition.

    I think it needs to be done on a case by case basis perhaps using neuropsych tests that are applicable to judge someone’s fitness to fly a plane. Being on multiple meds, I would have been a lousy candidate to fly one. But someone who has been stable one med for years might be fine.

    Same for withdrawal issues. I know it is hard to believe but many people don’t have problems getting off of psych meds. As one who did, I am not minimizing withdrawal issues by a long shot. I am just not comfortable making generalizations based on my experience to everyone else just like I don’t want folks doing it to me.

    • I suppose you’re right. Although, my adverse reactions to the antidepressants and neuroleptics seems to be extremely typical, and are completely medically explainable. I had the common symptoms of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, given under the guise of a “safe smoking cessation med,” misdiagnosed as “bipolar.” Resulting in an inappropriately given neuroleptic, which made me “psychotic” within two weeks. Then this allergic reaction to the antipsychotic was, of course, further misdiagnosed. And the doctor poly drugged me and created the symptom of “voices,” via the central symptoms of neuroleptic induced anticholinergic intoxication syndrome. It strikes me this is the most likely cause of most “schizophrenia.” But, of course, other drugs can also cause this same completely iatrogenic pathway to a “schizophrenia” or “bipolar” diagnosis.

    • “neuropsych tests”

      These tests are all stupid and even if they were not they rely on the person being honest which someone who may lose his/her job is unlikely to be.

      We have a couple billions people on the planet and many of them are pilots. We don’t have an epidemic of people crashing passenger planes in a murder/suicide scenario. It’s tragic and sad but it’s not something that should turn the society upside down. Sometimes you can’t prevent every bad thing from happening. One should maybe revise some policies which allow the pilot to lock himself in in a cabin if anything at all. What’s next – it a guy on a plane decides to hide a bomb in his rectum do we all start to get rectal exams before a flight? Have some dignity people – don’t be such cowardly crybabies. Anyway the more likely way to die is driving your car to work everyday or getting a heart attack or even getting eaten by a shark.

  2. B,

    With all due respect, I have to disagree with you about neuropsych tests being stupid. They actually gave me excellent information regarding problem areas I was having. I didn’t particularly like the interpretation by the neuropsych that I was doomed for life but that doesn’t mean the tests themselves are stupid.

    And I am not sure what you are talking about when you say it depends on people being honest. On many of them, they are based on skills which means you can’t BS them.

    • I respectfully disagree. I don’t know what you have personally got out of them but in my opinion they only tend to label people and start them thinking they’re a pathology. Not to mention that they are extremely subjective and any given question can be answered differently depending on individuals interpretation of the scale (what is “often” or “very” or even interpreted as 3 on a 6 point scale). They also ignore the context entirely (questions like “Are you anxious in social situations?” and ones similar totally ignore the fact that you can be anxious in certain situations or on certain days or when certain people and not others are present). All these things make these tests completely useless and if you think they have helped you to “understand” things about yourself you have likely had that understanding already. Plus any person only slightly more intelligent than a chimp can see where these questions are going, even if not consciously, and answer them in a way they that will get the “desirable” result (whatever desirable means for any given person at any given time).

      You can totally bulls*t these tests – I’ve done that in the past and it’s super easy.

      • B,

        As an FYI, neuro testing consists of personality and skills testing. You are referring to the multiphasic personality test which I agree is totally stupid and very insulting. I will never take it again after taking it that one time.

        What I am referring to are specific neuro psych tests for example that might measure particular skills that would be applicable to what pilots use in their training. Maybe it wouldn’t even require a visit to a neuropsych as perhaps there are various flight simulator tests that pilots could take to prove that they are not being affected by the med they are taking.

  3. Dear FAA,

    In looking at the “Preliminary Report, 6 May 2015” from the French civil aviation Bureau (BEA), I note this objective in their (Note: *ongoing*) safety investigation:

    “…to explain how and why pilots can be in a cockpit with the intention of causing the loss of the aircraft and its occupants…” [1]

    I must assume that your revised guidelines will also attempt to read the pilots minds.

    Best of luck with that, Monsieurs…

    Warm regards and burn the witches,

    Me

    [1] http://www.bea.aero/docspa/2015/d-px150324.en/pdf/d-px150324.en.pdf

  4. “The Federal Aviation Administration has created a panel of government and industry officials to recommend ways to improve the evaluation of pilots’ fitness to fly.”

    Great. Just what we need. More uninformed or misinformed bureaucrats. The process could so easily be simplified: ban psychotropic drugs. These screenings will do nothing more than bring more pilots in for psychiatric “treatment,” and then these pilots will be administered more psychotropic drugs. Then we will have entire fleets of Lubitz-like pilots.