Sunday, December 5

Crash Pilots had psychotic depressive symptoms



The report into the Germanwings crash which was deliberately caused by a co-pilot has recommended more medical checks for crew. One hundred and fifty people died when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz flew flight 9525 into a mountain-side in the French Alps after locking the pilot out of the cockpit.

French investigators have been holding a news conference in France this morning as the report into the crash’s cause is published. It comes after some of the families of the victims of the crash, who had advance sight of the report, voiced concerns.

Investigators told the news conference a doctor recommended that Lubitz should be treated in a psychiatric hospital two weeks before the disaster.

Lubitz had begun to show symptoms that could be consistent with a psychotic depressive episode in December 2014 and consulted several doctors over the following months, none of whom alerted aviation authorities or his employer, the spokesman for France’s BEA revealed.

Families of the victims have been told Lubitz saw 41 doctors for his condition in recent years. Under German law, none of the doctors were able to alert his employers to his state of mind.

Philip Bramley, the father of 28-year-old Briton Paul Bramley who died in the crash, said that if any one of the 41 doctors who had seen Mr Lubitz had reported their concerns, his son “would still be alive”.

But he told the Sunday Mirror: “It’s my view that the airline is at fault.” The investigators have recommended that as a result of what happened, there should be new world rules on medical reporting about pilots and regular screening of pilots’ mental health.

The BEA representative, contrasting doctors’ behaviour in Germany with what happens in, for example, Canada, said: “There is no formal definition of what could be an imminent danger … meaning the doctors are extremely careful.

“They do not communicate any information to the authorities, in the absence of an obvious imminent danger. They also fear legal consequences.

“So ….our first recommendation is … we request clear definition of rules to require care providers to inform the authorities when a specific patient’s health is very likely to impact public safety.

“We think it’s a global issue – several countries worldwide.”

Another recommendation was that, because the existing regime of pilot testing may be “inadequate”, regular special examinations are carried out on pilots with a medical history of mental disorder.

He said some countries’ approaches to flying with mental illness contrasted with the approach of authorities like the UK, where “conditions are extremely strict … (pilots’) depressive disorders can only be of a slight or moderate state.

As a result, he added, a third recommendation was that European regulators more clearly define regulations whereby pilots are declared fit to fly while taking antidepressants and that pilots should be provided for if they have to take time off.

The investigators have recommended that as a result of what happened, there should be new world rules on medical reporting about pilots and regular screening of pilots’ mental health.

The BEA representative, contrasting doctors’ behaviour in Germany with what happens in, for example, Canada, said: “There is no formal definition of what could be an imminent danger … meaning the doctors are extremely careful.

“They do not communicate any information to the authorities, in the absence of an obvious imminent danger. They also fear legal consequences.

“So ….our first recommendation is … we request clear definition of rules to require care providers to inform the authorities when a specific patient’s health is very likely to impact public safety.

“We think it’s a global issue – several countries worldwide.”

Another recommendation was that, because the existing regime of pilot testing may be “inadequate”, regular special examinations are carried out on pilots with a “medical history of mental disorder”.

He said some countries’ approaches to flying with mental illness contrasted with the approach of authorities like the UK, where “conditions are extremely strict … (pilots’) depressive disorders can only be of a slight or moderate state”.

As a result, he added, a third recommendation was that European regulators more clearly define regulations whereby pilots are declared fit to fly while taking antidepressants and that pilots should be provided for if they have to take time off.