Wednesday, 17 August 2016

EASA issues regulatory proposals in response to the Germanwings accident

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published a set of regulatory proposals, to prevent accidents like the Germanwings flight 4U9525, in which the co-pilot, who had a history of mental issues, took advantage of the temporary absence of the pilot-in-command and committed suicide by crashing the aircraft. The proposals concern medical requirements for pilots and the "2-persons-in-the-cockpit" recommendation. Further recommendations are about to follow by the end of the year.

The proposals on medical requirements for pilots concern the Part-MED on medical aspects and fitness of aircrews, which EASA wants to update based on operational experience. The proposals include
- strengthening pilot medical examinations by including drugs and alcohol screening, assessing comprehensively mental health and improving follow-up in case of history of psychiatric conditions,
- improving the quality of aero-medical examinations through better training, oversight and assessment of aero-medical examiners,
- preventing fraud attempts, by requiring aero-medical centres and examiners to report all incomplete medical assessments to the competent authority.

As to the "2-persons-in-the-cockpit" recommendation, EASA opted for a more flexible approach. Operators can maintain this procedure as one possible mitigating measure, after they have conducted a risk assessment, which considers elements such as the psychological and security screening of flight crew, employment stability and turnover rate, access to support programs, and ability of the operator’s management system to mitigate psychological and social risks.

These proposals follow the recommendations of the Task Force's report on Germanwings accident, which was released about a year ago. EASA's proposals will be elaborated by the European Commission, which will draft a legislative proposal to the European Parliament and to the Council for a new EU instrument to be adopted.

See also the relevant press releases from EASA here and here.

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