Air Worker health and wellness

Aviation experts to study pilots' emotional, mental health

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Photo: Photodisc/Thinkstock

Washington – A pair of high-profile incidents overseas has prompted a study into the emotional and mental health of commercial pilots in the United States.

The Federal Aviation Administration recommended the study in light of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s disappearance in March 2014 and the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 one year later. Prosecutors allege that the Germanwings crash was an intentional act by a co-pilot. In Malaysia, officials continue to investigate whether the plane’s disappearance was intentional.

A group called the Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee will lead the study. Aviation experts and medical professionals who specialize in aerospace medicine will be part of the committee, which is expected to deliver its findings to FAA within six months.

FAA said ARC will study the following issues:

  • Awareness and reporting of issues related to emotional and mental health
  • Methods used to evaluate pilots for their emotional and mental health
  • Barriers to reporting such information

The agency described its medical screening process as “robust” but remains open to improvements. FAA said it could consider changes to pilot training and testing, medical methods, aircraft design, and other features based on ARC’s recommendations.