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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

Old 4th Apr 2015, 09:52
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The AME should be allowed full access to pilots' complete medical records at initial and annual medical examinations.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 10:11
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Sick pilot symptom of a sick industry

I think it is pointless to discuss the technicalities of all of this in too much detail. We need a broader perspective and yes, a social context. How can you see this terrible event in isolation of the race to the bottom of the last few years? The article below describes it aptly as a "sick pilot being a symptom of a sick industry".

Germanwings crash in the Alps: sick pilot a symptom of a sick industry

Of course, in a PR attempt to be seen to be “doing something”, most airlines, worried about their profit margins and perceptions of the flying public, are now introducing a policy of always having two crew members on the flight deck (already common in the USA). This cheap and immediate measure seems a sensible policy at first sight, but clearly the law of unintended consequences applies here as well. What if the cabin crew member is the rogue member of staff, locks the door, restrains the remaining seated pilot and takes control of the aircraft to nose-dive it into the ground? Somebody with minimal screening on a zero hour contract? (the reality in low-cost airlines, where there is a high turn-over of cabin crew because of the poor working conditions).


Currently, when a pilot is suffering from one of a multitude of situations which is impairing them mentally, from fatigue (very common) to a specific mental condition, there is no adequate support system in place. The perception is that we will be out the door and back on the dole with no hope of returning to work. This is not conducive to the best possible mental state for those sitting at the controls to do their job correctly.


The truth is, a cancer has been eating away for quite some time at the aviation industry as a whole. Low cost airlines have initiated a race to the bottom and through sheer market forces legacy carriers have been forced to follow suit. In order to understand how it came to this we have to go back a few decades.

It is unclear how much Lubitz was aware or involved in all of this. What is clear is that he lived in this social context and became socially alienated to a pathological level. Was it a feeling of lack of control over his own life and future? A hopelessness about nobody caring for him that he could no longer bear? We will probably never know.

We believe it is more useful to provide a general framework of the current state of the aviation industry than what is being spouted in the mass media about this tragedy. It has never been much in the public eye, but pressure has been building up for quite a while now. Morale is at rock bottom in most airlines. Unions are either non-existent or powerless to stem the tide, never mind offer an alternative that can inspire their members (we would suggest taking a good look at London tube drivers). What was once one of the best careers to aspire to is now quickly becoming a laughing stock. Why would anyone bother going through all this drama when the public perception is of a pilot just pushing a few buttons “as these things fly themselves anyway” (nothing could be further from the truth) in some cases to earn less than a train driver?

The point is not to empathise with Lubitz or justify his actions, despicable as they are, but to try and understand why a human being might act this way, so that people can then try to ensure it does not happen so easily again. Within aviation in the last few decades, this has been the goal of aircraft accident investigations: not to apportion blame to any particular individual, but to try to uncover a chain of events in order to draw the lessons. Rather than just throwing our arms in the air and declaring Lubitz was a “madman” or a “rotten apple” living in a social vacuum, our aim should be a lot higher. As such, we cannot see this event in isolation but have to see it within the context of the degeneration of the aviation industry in particular and the prevailing malaise in society in general.

Last edited by vlieger; 4th Apr 2015 at 10:29.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 10:33
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vlieger: that link you posted - never did I think I'd read something from a journal titled "Marxist" and applaud it, but the first half I agreed with... will read the rest later.

Originally Posted by caneworm View Post
"I think every serious airline company need to have internal
examination system to prevent from flying people with mental problems".

It's our employers right to know everything about their workers to determine their fitness to fly.
There are a few flaws in what you say. Firstly you start with "every serious airline company" and end with "our employers right to know everything ". LH is unusual in that it is a large airline with resources, and as such has been seen as accountable for the pilots' mental health assessment. caneworm's link gives what I think is more accurate:
Naturally, airlines select candidates who can deal with those stresses and pressures. For that matter, Lubitz was a product of Lufthansa Flight Training, a prestigious institution that uses the infamous DLR test. This Flight Aptitude and Skills Test is one of the hardest selection procedures in the industry and has a very low pass rate. However, as all current selection procedures, they do not check for mental illness. Sure, psychological profiles are checked, but those simply determine if someone fits into the job and company, not if he or she has a mental illness (as if this would be possible anyway).
Even if LH did have the resources and legal right to know everything, make the assessment, a small startup airline with 1 or 2 737s would not... but can still end up as GW.

Health, including mental health, should be a level playing field, and a Class 1 Medical Certificate is, and should be IMO, the sole criteria for "fitness to fly". Reword your post to:
"I think every Aircrew Medical authority need to have an examination system to prevent from flying people with mental problems".

It's the Authorities right to know everything about the Pilots to certify and determine their fitness to fly
I might agree, albeit how on earth they would achieve it I do not know?
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 11:11
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In my past life we had a positive investigation with a regular review every 5 years. You had to make full disclosure, you were interviewed, your family was interviewed, your friends and bosses were interviewed. The process took about 3 months and was very expensive. And it didn't work.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 11:25
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Interesting article by those professionals whose job it probably will be to assess us in the future.

Especially the following paragraphs point at the core problem, the inability to really test for later mental issues.

"EFPA and EAAP underline that psychological assessment and human factors training are among the elements that make aviation the safest form of transport around the world. Together with technical and operational measures they ensure that catastrophic events, like the crash of flight 4U 9525, are highly exceptional. Also, the selection of pilots in Germany, as conducted by DLR, meets the highest professional standards.

Psychological assessment before entry to flight training and before admission to active service by an airline can help to select pilots who are mentally and emotionally prepared for the work and who can handle stressors effectively.

However, it cannot forecast the life events and mental health problems occurring in the life of each individual pilot and the unique way he or she will cope with these."
But of course.
Looks like we are forgetting that pilots are human.
No human will ever be predictable 100% of the time. Never happened, never will be. If you want total and complete predictability all the time, every time, get a computer.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 11:31
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Arranging for a CC to guard the cockpit door when one pilot is unavoidably absent is such a mitigation, which has the added benefits of being immediately available at zero cost. Arguing that it is pointless because it may not guarantee a repeat is a kindergarten reaction.
Really, this is elementary logic.
If adding the CC was "zero risk", I might agree.

As the excellent article above states:
Of course, in a PR attempt to be seen to be “doing something”, most airlines, worried about their profit margins and perceptions of the flying public, are now introducing a policy of always having two crew members on the flight deck (already common in the USA). This cheap and immediate measure seems a sensible policy at first sight, but clearly the law of unintended consequences applies here as well. What if the cabin crew member is the rogue member of staff, locks the door, restrains the remaining seated pilot and takes control of the aircraft to nose-dive it into the ground? Somebody with minimal screening on a zero hour contract? (the reality in low-cost airlines, where there is a high turn-over of cabin crew because of the poor working conditions).
It requires a "risk assessment" of the variables, and a conclusion.

If it was such "elementary logic" why did EASA/CAA require the airlines not only to review their risk assessment, but if they added the "2 in cockpit rule" the added risks of that must be assessed and mitigated?
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 11:40
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It might be interesting to remember that Lübitz worked as a flight attendant (as do many other lufthansa students while they wait their three to five years on a flight deck seat). The new policy would have guaranteed him the alone time to do his job much earlier, and he had already glass cockpit flight experience through his flight training as the lufthansa advanced trainer is a Cessna CJ1. Would have been easy to use that crashe axe and then do what he did now, admittedly easier now, but possible without much of a nuisance back then.

And he was properly vetted, had even undergone the procedure of losing his medical, getting it back due to his psych eval that cleared him again after his depression. Now, cabin crews do not get vetted, have only very rudimentary medical check and a very high percentage of muslims compared to the flight deck crew, not that that has anything to do with the current case. But it might have somewhere else.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 11:44
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Curiously, as it happens, today's paper relates how a rail company has had its licence to operate suspended after two incidents last month when the ran red lights. They had a driver and fireman on the foot plate.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 11:49
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Quote: Originally Posted by NoD

If it was such "elementary logic" why did EASA/CAA require the airlines not only to review their risk assessment, but if they added the "2 in cockpit rule" the added risks of that must be assessed and mitigated?


I think you're clutching at straws in a desperate attempt to hold on to unsustainable logic and a failed argument
I would contend I am not "clutching at straws", but quoting the EASA recommendation.

I might suggest you are clutching at straws describing something as "elementary logic" when it explicitly contradicts the EASA recommendation
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 11:52
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Originally Posted by LSM
Or just inaction by one mind persuaded so by the other.
Now you're clutching at straws.

So your hypothesis is that a CC, trained and competent to deal with difficult passengers, will be readily persuaded by a rogue pilot to deny re-entry to the other pilot on the grounds of mental incapacity and that the first pilot will then be completely free to take unimpeded action to fly the aircraft into the ground; and all the while the CC is ignoring the pleas of the second pilot to allow re-entry and remains completely accepting of the first pilot's instructions without question or hesitation. Yep, that's really plausible.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 12:18
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Originally Posted by Lord Spandex Masher
It doesn't mitigate a thing.

I've posted this before but imagine if Lubitz had persuaded the CC that the captain was acting weird and to not let him back in?
I am constantly surprised by the low opinion 'front crew' have of the 'rear crew'.

Most of the cabin crew are very very aware of the progress of the flight as they have a set number of tasks to carry out in sometimes very brief periods. Starting descent just after level off when the flight attendant is aware that there is an hour to go would be extremely suspicious. All the flight attendant does then is open the door. This becomes extremely likely when the aircraft is in high rate descent approaching mountains.

You also need to take into account that the 'alone in the cockpit' part was needed as most suicides are solitary events.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 12:30
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Exclamation

Some of you need to read the El Al report about flight deck security, because the Q&A section covered all the possible "What ifs" relating to opening the door. For example, if you have a Wifi method, you will have compromised the security of the flight deck, because some geeky terrorist will just hack the system and open the door.
There is no point swapping one risk factor for another!
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 12:31
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'Originally Posted by caneworm
"I think every serious airline company need to have internal
examination system to prevent from flying people with mental problems".


Good idea, but it's not enough.
The authorities & airline managements must have full access to a pilots,
* financial situation, (mortgage, debts, gambling history)
* marital situation, (married, divorced, separated, dependants)
* personal health history and that of all family members
* lifestyle choices, (gay, cross dresser, transgender, hellfire club membership)
* traffic violations
It's our employers right to know everything about their workers to determine their fitness to fly'

A persons sexuality or gender is nothing to do with their ability to fly.
I have known homosexual and lesbian pilots and at least one, extremely capable, transgender pilot.
It is nothing to do with a persons employer and there are strong laws in place to prevent such discrimination.
That you call these things 'lifestyle choices' perhaps says more about you and your own prejudices.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 12:35
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Originally Posted by xollob
so you can provide some elementary logic as to why the areas listed above as examples do not need to be protected in a similar fashion ? closing the barn door after the horse has bolted isn't pro-active risk assessment.

if its what public think will make them safe so be it. I don't think and at least hope the public aren't that misinformed though, where there is a will there is a way, as mentioned in the excellent Marxist article.

We just end up becoming a red tape society, like H&S & HR drones !
The areas that you list probably do need to be protected in similar fashion, indeed some are.

However, - if you had not noticed - aviation is held to a higher level of safety than other forms of transport . There have been several occasions when lone pilots have become suicidal and killed their passengers ( ASN News » List of aircraft accidents caused by pilot suicide ) It is less easy to find similar occurrences in other walks of life; the Moorgate train crash 'suicide' claim is just one of the possibilities together with the driver totally losing attention. Also, unfortunately, an aircraft accident will get far more publicity than other accidents. So you are in the spotlight as a 'Sky God' and all you can do is give the school yard response "train drivers are left on their own too"?

This is a problem that the industry must fix. If there is another similar suicide incident in the next year or so, the politicians will take over with mandates and wholly indeterminate regulations with unintended consequences. Individuals or airlines refusing those political mandates would just have their licenses to fly/operate withdrawn. (Note how rapidly BA backed off when 'told' by the CAA to institute 2 in the cockpit) It makes eminent sense for the industry to mitigate the certain hazard of another lone pilot crash before the decision is taken out of the industry's hands.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 12:35
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Starting descent just after level off when the flight attendant is aware that there is an hour to go would be extremely suspicious.
That is actually not all that unusual. Descends and climbs happen, quite often in fact, especially in europes pretty crowded airspace. They usually do know how much time they have for their service, the rest usually not. Had the case once where we climbed to 410 and then had to descend down to 200 right away just to get out of turbulences. Nobody ever asked what we were doing or why we were so low. They never noticed the descend, just that the turbulences weren't as severe anymore.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 12:43
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Originally Posted by Denti
That is actually not all that unusual. Descends and climbs happen, quite often in fact, especially in europes pretty crowded airspace. They usually do know how much time they have for their service, the rest usually not. Had the case once where we climbed to 410 and then had to descend down to 200 right away just to get out of turbulences. Nobody ever asked what we were doing or why we were so low. They never noticed the descend, just that the turbulences weren't as severe anymore.
They probably asked no questions as you would have announced what you were doing. However, continuing high rate descent into mountains while keeping the captain locked out would have not gone unnoticed would it
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 12:50
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Lubitz may have planned his atrocity years ago, perhaps during the long break in his training. Society doesn't have a good way to ferret out those people without a conscience. Psychologists need to develop those tests. "if an instructor gives you a poor grade on a test, what would you want to do to the instructor if you could get away with it?"

A good first step would to give tests to pilots that would try to determine if pilots have a functioning conscience.

Any objection from the pilots here?
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 12:53
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CC in FD is not at all a tentpeg stopper; for instance:
Bad guys infiltrate a number of sleepers who wait, for years if necessary, for opportunity to bludgeon single pilot.
Why bother with CC and why wait all that time. Why not train a few people to fly (P2F) and get jobs with carriers. Then there will be lots of easy opportunities to take control and crash the aircraft when the other pilot leave the cockpit. Without a "two person rule", that so many professional flight crew seem so set against, what could be easier?
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 13:16
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Why not train a few people to fly (P2F) and get jobs with carriers.
Even if they have the education and ability, it would take about a year and a pile of money to get the frozen ATPL. Then they need the P2F job which won't be with a major.
Much quicker and easier to put a number of CC in position.
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Old 4th Apr 2015, 13:20
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Why bother with CC and why wait all that time. Why not train a few people to fly (P2F) and get jobs with carriers. Then there will be lots of easy opportunities to take control and crash the aircraft when the other pilot leave the cockpit. Without a "two person rule", that so many professional flight crew seem so set against, what could be easie
Yup, that would be possible. However, much much more difficult. First you have to be one of the lucky few ones who pass the selection criteria, then the background checks, then you need to upfront 100k€ to train and two years of time in which you have to be perfectly immersed into the target society (weirdos do get reported). Check out the wannabe forums how difficult it is to get that job.

All still possible, but now with just 4 weeks of training, a perfunctory check, no upfront cost at all you know you will be there.
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