Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Germanwings Air Crash

Many may be aware of the Germanwings A320 when on Mar 24th 2015, the first officer alone in cockpit, initiated rapid descent and deliberately crashed the aircraft. 

The co-pilot was suffering from a mental disorder with psychotic symptoms. There is evidence of depressed professional pilots refusing medication because they would be grounded if they did so. There is also evidence of pilots taking anti-depressant medication without declaring it to aeromedical authorities, while continuing to fly. The co-pilot was aware of the decrease in his own medical fitness and of the potential impact of his medication. 

“However, he did not seek any advice from an AME, nor did he inform his employer. One of the explanations lays in the financial consequences he would have faced in case of the loss of his licence. His limited Loss of License insurance could not cover his loss of income resulting from unfitness to fly. More generally, the principle of self-declaration in case of a decrease in medical fitness is weakened when the negative consequences for a pilot of self-declaration, in terms of career, financial consequences, and loss of self-esteem, are higher than the perceived impact on safety that failing to declare would have. Organisations, especially airlines, can reinforce self-declaration of a decrease in medical fitness of their staff, by acting on some of the consequences of unfitness, by offering motivating alternative positions and by limiting the financial consequences of a loss of licence, for example through extending loss of licence coverage.”

So it appears that one of the primary causes point to the ruthless social-economic system of capitalism for the co-pilot feared losing his ability to fly as a professional pilot if he had reported his decrease in medical fitness which would have to potential financial consequences generated by the lack of specific insurance covering the risks of loss of income in case of unfitness to fly

The report recommends that:
“that European operators include in their Management Systems measures to mitigate socio-economic risks related to a loss of licence by one of their pilots for medical reasons. IATA encourage its Member Airlines to implement measures to mitigate the socio-economic risks related to pilots’ loss of licence for medical reasons.”

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