FAA mulls pilot mental health screening

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working with the commercial aviation and medical communities to study the emotional and mental health of its commercial pilots.

The joint FAA and industry group known as the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) recommended the study based on the recent Malaysia Flight 370 and Germanwings Flight 9525 accidents.

The Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) will provide the FAA with recommendations within six months. The group will include US and international government and industry aviation experts, including a working group of medical professionals who specialize in aerospace medicine.

The FAA said US pilots undergo robust medical screening, but recent accidents in other parts of the world prompted it to take a new look at the important issue of pilot fitness.

The ARC will 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.

Based on the groups recommendations, the FAA may consider 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 ARCs meetings will not be open to the public.

Federal Aviation Regulations outline the medical requirements for pilots. US airline pilots undergo a medical exam with an FAA-approved physician every six or twelve months depending on the pilot’s age.

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Posted in Airlines, CAAs/ANSPs, News, Safety, Security

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