European airlines will begin performing psychological assessments of newly hired pilots before they begin employment, according to new European Union safety rules published Wednesday.
The rules also call for alcohol testing of pilots and cabin crewmembers employed by airlines that fly into European Union member states, and the establishment of a support program to assist pilots who work for European airlines in “recognising, coping with and overcoming problems which might negatively affect their ability to safety exercise the privileges of their licence.” The announcement about the new rules did not mention a requirement for drug testing.
The new rules were developed in the aftermath of the March 24, 2015, crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps. All 150 passengers and crew in the Airbus A320 were killed and the airplane was destroyed in the crash, which the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses said was planned by the first officer, who wanted to kill himself.
“These new European rules take up the proposals EASA [the European Aviation Safety Agency] made in its swift follow-up of the Germanwings Flight 9525 accident,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “With these rules, Europe introduces the right tools to safeguard the mental fitness of air crew.”
he rules will take full effect following a two-year transition period to allow EASA member states and airlines to establish the infrastructure needed for compliance, EASA said. The agency said it plans to issue guidance material to support implementation of the new rules and will work with the industry and member states to aid in implementation of the regulation.