Regulators have done a lot within the last decade to ensure that pilots are in good health when they are at the controls of commercial airliners. But in the wake of the Germanwings tragedy, one thing is certain-the mental health management of pilots will be looked at with fresh eyes.
Tony Tyler, the head of the International Air Transportation Association said on Wednesday that lessons from the Germanwings crash will be learned and applied in order to prevent such a terrible tragedy from happening again. Psychological screening and evaluation of pilots’ mental states will “no doubt” be something that regulators will have to consider, said Tyler, who added that a full and complete investigation is needed to learn the right lessons.
On March 24, 27-year-old co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his fellow pilot out of the cockpit and deliberately crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountainside in the French Alps. Lubitz and 149 other people lost their lives in the crash.
Numerous media sources have reported on Lubitz’s history of mental illness. He showed signs of depression dating back to 2009 when he had to step away from flight school-a move that is far from normal. During that same year, Lubitz himself informed Lufthansa (Germanwings parent company) that he had suffered from severe depression. His issues transcended clinical depression when he was administered injections of antipsychotic medication in 2010.
How did Lufthansa and Germanwings let these red flags unravel into such a tragedy? It goes without saying that preventative measures could and should have been taken to keep Lubitz out of the cockpit of a commercial airliner immediately after he stopped his training and informed his employer of his illness. The question now becomes, what will we do to make sure another Andreas Lubitz doesn’t slip through the cracks?