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Mental health on the flight deck

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Mental health on the flight deck

Old 2nd Jun 2021, 19:03
  #1 (permalink)  
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Mental health on the flight deck


This was sent to me earlier, it says a lot about what many of us have feared for many years.

Coincidentally, I'm going to the CAA for a psychiatric assessment this week as part of my initial Class 1. The hoops you have to jump through are endless and very expensive. They treat absolutely everyone who's had a mental illness as a potential Andreas Lubitz.

If I had my medical and then got depression, I'd be very reluctant to get any treatment at all, knowing that the CAA would seemingly do their best to keep me out of the flight deck!

Is this just a UK thing? Are things different with the FAA?
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Old 2nd Jun 2021, 20:56
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Flying an aircraft is not very hard but it does require a certain degree of focus. I think it is quite right that the CAA carries relevant checks to ensure that focus is there. After all you would not complain that they check you eyesight or your hearing.
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Old 2nd Jun 2021, 21:03
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Of course, but they wouldn't be "suspicious" of you for the rest of your life because you'd once had an eyesight or hearing issue.

Be interesting to know how many pilots avoid going to their doctor about physical problems because they're worried about the impact on their license.

There's surely got to come a point where being so very strict is actually detrimental to flight safety as people ignore symptoms
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 07:46
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With all respect for mental illnesses I support a cautious approach after those lessons learned. We have seen how L. deliberately circumvented all medical specialists by splitting up the business.
I don't want to sound brutal but why should the travelling public (and colleagues) pay by having the risk of an error on their side?
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 08:29
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The point I was trying to make is that any overreaction by the authorities is putting people at MORE at risk as pilots don't report mental health problems at all.

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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 08:38
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True and a valid point. A bit like incident reporting.
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 13:31
  #7 (permalink)  
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Both the CAA and BA have looked at this quandry. The reality is that pilots as a group are far more healthy than the general population and the risk of incapacitation is very very low. Most people are not inherently dishonest and the UK has a general practitioner service where all an individual's notes are coordinated. In fairness Germany is an outlier in putting laws in the way of doctors communicating with each other.

Mental health may be different but there is scant evidence of this and it is difficult to have any mental health assessment or treatment without your GP knowing. The CAA then carefully makes it difficult for a pilot not to disclose.....Personally I think we are about right: we seem to be avoiding mental health issues putting flights at risk and any further restriction would therefore have little benefit but would inconvenience pilots.
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 15:44
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Lubitz may have been depressed but he was clearly a psychopath. Plenty of people take their lives every day without taking a load of innocent people with them.
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Old 4th Jun 2021, 03:01
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Things are actually substantially more draconian with the FAA.

Any history ever (even as a kid, or for brief situational depression) of antidepressant use, for whatever reason is disqualifying and getting a special issuance requires a HIMS AME, usually an independent psychiatric evaluation and, on average, 6 months or so of fiddling around by all involved before any certificate is issued.
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 12:35
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Some of these statement is not quite true. However the theme of this thread is valuable, we can not allow the problems to be driven underground again. There are ways to seek treatment for M/H issues without involving the FAA. Seek health first before if becomes a more serious problem.
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