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Mental health monitoring of pilots on DGCA safety radar

india Updated: Apr 06, 2015 00:54 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times


India may introduce regular check-ups for pilots to assess their mental health, with the country's aviation regulator working on new norms, a move prompted by the revelation that the co-pilot of a plane which crashed last month had a history of mental depression.

Sources said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has already started talking to stakeholders for formulating new guidelines to assess the mental condition of pilots.

"The medical services wing of the DGCA is working on the proposed guidelines," said an official.

This follows an informal meeting between top aviation ministry officials and DGCApersonnel in the aftermath of the Germanwings tragedy, where 150 people died after a passenger jet crashed in the Alps last month.

"There can be no foolproof system to prevent a mishap. A psychometric test can reveal the state of mind or the mental condition of the person who is being interviewed at that point of time. The state of mind of changes from time to time," a senior captain said.

Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz struggled with severe depression before the disaster in the French Alps, prosecutors in the case have said, alleging that he deliberately crashed the plane after locking the captain out of the cockpit.

At present, most Indian carriers hold psychometric tests as part of their induction process for the crew but don't have any subsequent examinations to check their mental health.

"While most Indian airlines already conduct psychological assessment tests, we want a more institutionalised mechanism in place," said an aviation ministry official.

India already has a "two person rule" in the cockpit, which ensures that it is manned by two people at any given point of time during a flight.

"When one of the two pilots takes a break or goes to the washroom, a cabin crew is present in the cockpit," said a pilot.