The aviation accident investigation agency of France, the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA), earlier this week published its final report on the March 24, 2015, crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, in which 150 passengers and crew were killed. In the report, BEA said the crash was due to the “deliberate and planned action of the copilot, who decided to commit suicide while alone in the cockpit.”
Flight Safety Foundation today released the following statement:
“We commend the BEA for challenging regulators and the industry to come up with better rules for balancing a patient’s right of medical privacy with public safety,” said Jon Beatty, president and CEO of Flight Safety Foundation. “It’s disturbing to learn that the Germanwings copilot was taking prescription antidepressant medications with possible signficant side effects, and that a doctor just weeks before this tragedy had recommended psychiatric hospital treatment, but neither the pilot’s employer nor the regulator were informed. We need to find better ways to encourage pilots and other safety professionals to come forward to obtain treatment for mental health issues without jeopardizing their jobs, but it’s unacceptable to keep their employers and regulators in the dark, and the traveling public at risk.”
The BEA investigation found that a private physician referred the Germanwings copilot to mental health professionals one month before the accident and diagnosed a possible psychosis two weeks before the accident. A psychiatrist treating the copilot prescribed antidepressant medication one month before the accident and other antidepressants, along with sleeping aid medication, eight days before the accident. Yet “no health care providers reported any aeromedical concerns to authorities,” according to an English translation of the report, and “no aviation authority, or any authority, was informed of the mental state of the copilot.”
Flight Safety Foundation is an independent, non-profit, international organization engaged in research, education, advocacy and publishing to improve aviation safety. The Foundation’s mission is to be the leading voice of safety for the global aerospace community.
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