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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

Old 18th Mar 2016, 22:01
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Further to Snuggles views, while working in Flt Ops back office regularly involved with pilots and their medical renewals etc I often wondered at this culture of confidentiality and the jealous guarding of it by this particular group of professionals. What is so "confidential" about anyones state of health? Why does it get to the point that it cant be mentioned in this group's case because "someone might lose their job"? ( as no doubt the pilot group will maintain). Isnt the fact they might lose their job sufficient reason for their state of health to be known by someone in authority other than their doctor?

We had a very large in-house free medical centre but still some pilots chose to go to outside practitioners ( at their own cost but that was hardly an issue of course). I and many others had the same choice but I dont recall any non-flyers electing to go "private".

Funny ie peculiar, how the very group with peoples lives in their hands have the opportunity to avoid the close scrutiny you might think ought to be an automatic requirement. Solution; pilots are medically examined by airline appointed doctors who are free to notify management when " fitness to fly" is called into question.
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Old 19th Mar 2016, 11:40
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Solution; pilots are medically examined by airline appointed doctors who are free to notify management when " fitness to fly" is called into question.
I don't see how your scheme would foil somebody who was absolutely determined to hide a medical problem.

Also using your logic it sounds like you think crew members would have to go to the company Doc(s) for every single consultation for every single ailment, regardless of what it is (from sniffles and colds through to broken bones, perhaps even worse) and also regardless of where the crew member is taken ill.....it would of course also need to be a service available 24/7. Leaving aside the legal and logistical problems associated with your plan best of luck getting the company bean counters to pay to set up that kind of service...where I work the company medical facilities have been steadily reduced over the years and I doubt it could even cope with all pilots demanding that their recurrent medicals were done in house, let alone 4000+ pilots using it as a G.P's service.

Last edited by wiggy; 19th Mar 2016 at 13:05. Reason: correcting spelling
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Old 19th Mar 2016, 12:25
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Leaving aside the legal and logistical problems associated with your plan best of luck getting the company bean counters to pay to set up that kind of service.
I could even see that in the case of large airline groups. In fact i do use the services of the Lufthansa medical center myself, but expecting any AOC holder to have that kind of infrastructure? Not a chance in hell. And it still wouldn't prevent anything critical. And it wouldn't work, at least in germany, without large changes to several laws. For example has everyone the free choice of MD as long as the MD fulfills a few basic requirements. Especially the employer cannot force any employee to go to a certain MD or AME. Not to mention the privacy law which is not going to change.
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Old 20th Mar 2016, 14:49
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wiggy/denti Airlines can appoint doctors to carry out medicals for licence renewal without having to employ them. It just happened that they did where I worked.

The BEA Final Report is 104 pages long of which around 50 deal with all the medical aspects and their conclusions/recommendations suggest to me that some radical changes will follow. The industry just cannot sit back and hope this doesnt happen again. Remember also that when MH 370 is eventually found the possibility of a similar scenario to GW may be discovered.
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Old 20th Mar 2016, 15:23
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Yes, I've read the report and I'm also aware of how airlines can appoint AMEs.

You still haven't answered how you prevent a pilot who is really determined from hiding aspects of his/her medical medical history from his AME and/or employer.

Lets imagine your plan is enacted and "my" company ( or even my national Government) insists I go to doctors appointed by them for any medical consulations and Class 1 renewals.

Lets also imagine I have a temporary condition I don't want my company or AME to know about.....I could simply get it dealt with by another doctor not connected with the company, and in fact one who may not even be in the same country or even continent as the employer. If I don't tell the treating physician about my employment and I never tell my company or AME about the outside consultation they will never be any the wiser.

Writing rules insisting pilots use company employed or company appointed doctors will not magically solve the "Lubitz" problem.
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Old 20th Mar 2016, 16:48
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wiggy, Its your plan not mine. I havent mentioned any old consultations, just medicals for licence renewal. You are not giving enough credit to the AMEs. In front of them is a pilot to be examined, the result of which will determine whether he/she has her licence renewed. Particularly in the light of the Germanwings and other similar events I am sure AMEs are expert enough know what questions to ask so it doesnt follow that pilots will always be able to hoodwink them. In fact Lubitz wasnt even determined to hide his condition, he was quite open with several doctors though not of course with his employer. And therein lies the problem and solution. Confidentiality exists between pilot and Ame, extend it by only one step, to between Ame and employer.
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Old 20th Mar 2016, 17:26
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Why would you need that? If the AME cannot issue a medical, he will issue the pilot with a form that says exactly that, while inputting the same in the CAA online system (LBA in germany) and the CAA then will pull the license of the pilot in question. Without a medical he can not be rostered to fly. So there is no need for any additional information. Either he is fit to fly and gets his medical, or he isn't.

In cases that are not that clear cut, an AMC or the authority has to decide if a medical can be issued, and what if any restrictions are on that medical.

I would argue that Lubitz was open about his condition during his initial training. But not nearly as open apparently when he relapsed later on during his career because he was afraid he might lose his job, a direct result of the current state of fear in the long running and very bitter conflict between pilots and managment in the lufthansa group, where pilots see their jobs outsourced to cheap contracts left and right.
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 06:12
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This is probably one for an AME to come back at but in the meantime and with no disrepect to them intended I think you're overestimating what goes on when the AME renews (or not) your Class 1, 2 or whatever.

I don't see how even the best AME can't see/detect everything that might be wrong with you in a short consultation.

In fact Lubitz wasnt even determined to hide his condition,
Correct - so how does your plan to stop this ever happening again uncover someone who really is prepared to lie and has hidden his/her tracks?

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Old 21st Mar 2016, 11:24
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At the heart of this matter is a medical check system which is clearly unable to prevent
suicidal pilots getting into the cockpit. I have made a suggestion to help block some of the holes in the system. As pilots you surely must have some ideas on what can be done?
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 12:17
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Do germanwing pilots being paid while they're sick and can't fly ?
If they're not, like Ryanair, this should be the key point of this story.

Anyone got the answer ?
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 12:46
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Do germanwing pilots being paid while they're sick and can't fly ?
If they're not, like Ryanair, this should be the key point of this story.
Yes, they do get paid. It is not a zero hour contract like the contractors that fly for ryanair. In germany by law a maximum of six consecutive weeks, thereafter up to 78 weeks a lower pay by the health insurance (public health insurance) or even longer on private insurance.

@portmanteu, the main problem is you can't. Mental problems are not easy at all to diagnose, especially if the person in question does not want to disclose any problems. Even specialists in that field struggle there. And AMEs are not psychiatrists or anything close. And psychological testing doesn't help much at all. Lubitz passed a three day test to get into the lufthansa cadet training and as far as i know another two day test battery after his break.

From statistical evidence in other fields where people have problems, like for example alcohol abuse, the best thing to do is offer peer support and support in general, not the chance of losing your income, job or even license. In that case pilots that think they may have a problem consult either their peer support or a professional without any fear of reprisal and get into fixing that problem.

Granted, that is not an easy fix, it means in many carriers a change or company culture and it is not one of those easy measure politicians love so much because they can sum it up in one simple sentence.
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 15:55
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D-AIPX - Airbus A320.
24 March 2015

Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses
pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile.

The BEA report is certainly exhaustive on the subject of the confidentiality between pilot and medico and the circumstances in which entrenched codes of confidentiality may justifiably be breached without fear of retribution from in some countries harsh punitive legal sanctions. Incidentally, let's not fool ourselves, there are countless doctors who in the case of doctor/patient confidentiality, and given the wide variation in doctor competency, are ill equipped to decide the best course of action where a perceived threat to the safety of others lives and property occurs. (Incidentally, in Australia the bureaucrats have infiltrated the aviation medicine department of the regulator to the extent that for many working in the industry any of their dealings with Avmed are fraught with alarm and suspicion, with daily instances of cock-ups and frequent cases of sheer medical ignorance and incompetency. If you tell them on renewal that you sometimes feel sad or nod off in front of the TV you may be scored low on their wacky richter scale. Be very careful how many drinks you admit to imbibing per day or week. )

Back on topic . . .. The BEA report should be required reading for all concerned about the wider implications of medical matters impinging on air accident investigation and reporting.

Some extracts from this fascinating document -

The BEA recommends that:

EASA require that when a class 1 medical certificate is issued to
an applicant with a history of psychological/psychiatric trouble
of any sort, conditions for the follow-up of his/her fitness to fly
be defined. This may include restrictions on the duration of the
certificate or other operational limitations and the need for a specific
psychiatric evaluation for subsequent revalidations or renewals.

Routine analysis of in-flight incapacitation
Currently available data does not provide accurate awareness of in-flight
incapacitation risks, especially in relation to mental health issues. This lack of data,confirmed by the difficulties experienced during the investigation in collecting data on previous similar incidents or accidents, can be explained by the reluctance to report this type of event, by the lack of investigations being carried out, by ongoing judicial proceedings, and/or restrictions linked to medical confidentiality

Promotion of pilot support programmes
The investigation has shown that in spite of the onset of symptoms that could be consistent with a psychotic depressive episode and the fact that he was taking medication that made him unfit to fly, the co-pilot did not seek any aeromedical advice before exercising the privilege of his licence. This is likely the result of difficulties in overcoming the stigma that is attached to mental illness, and the prospects of losing his medical certification and therefore his job as a pilot. Self-declaration in cases where pilots experience a decrease in medical fitness or starting a regular course of medication can be fostered if psychological support programs are available to crews who experience
emotional or mental health issues. Existing programs, overseen by peers, provide a “safe zone” for pilots by minimising career jeopardy as well as the stigma of seeking mental health assistance. These programs are sometimes underutilised for reasons such as: employees questioning the confidentiality of the service; the perception that a stigma is attached to asking for professional help with personal matters; or lack of unawareness of the program and its capabilities. Management of a decrease
in medical fitness can be optimized by including the intervention of peers and/orfamily members. AsMA recommends extending awareness of mental health issues beyond the physician to facilitate greater recognition, reporting and discussion.

Peer support systems are well implemented in major airlines, particularly in North America,where just culture principles are well known. However, these types of systems may pose significant implementation challenges when they are applied to smaller sized organisations that are less mature and have a different cultural background. For these peer support groups to be efficient, crews and/or their families need to be reassured that mental health issues will not be stigmatised, concerns raised will be handled
confidentially and that pilots will be well supported, with the aim of allowing them to return to flying duties.

Some known incidents of disruptive behaviour -
This list does not include events due to terrorist attacks.
Aircraft Operator
State of Occurrence

The aircraft was in cruise at FL370 approximately 60 NM from Lisbon
when the co-pilot became incapacitated, and could no longer perform his
duties. The captain diverted to Faro, where the plane landed uneventfully.
The copilot was then transported to the hospital, where he exhibited
behaviour during the following days that raised psychiatric concerns.

The aeroplane was in cruise at flight level FL380 when the co-pilot left the
cockpit to go to the toilet, leaving the captain alone. On three occasions,
different altitudes were selected to order a descent to the ground with
autopilot. The CVR showed variable levels of aural warnings, as well as
noises of repeated knocking and calls, corresponding to attempts to get
into the cockpit.

JetBlue USA
As the plane was leaving New York-JFK and climbing in altitude in its
scheduled five-hour flight to Las Vegas, the captain said something to the
first officer (FO) about being evaluated by someone, but the FO did not
know what he meant. The captain then talked about his church and the
need to “focus” and asked the FO to take the controls and work the radios.
The captain began talking about religion, but, according to the FO, his
statements were not coherent. The FO became concerned when the
captain said “things just don’t matter.” According to the FO, the captain
yelled over the radio to air traffic control and instructed them to be quiet.
The captain turned off the radios in the aircraft, dimmed his monitors, and
sternly admonished the FO for trying to talk on the radio. When the captain
said “we need to take a leap of faith,” the FO stated that he became very
worried. The captain told the FO that “we’re not going to Vegas” and
began giving what the FO described as a sermon. The FO suggested to
the captain that they invite the off-duty JetBlue captain who was on board
the flight into the cockpit. However, the captain abruptly left the cockpit to
go to the forward lavatory, alarming the rest of the flight crew when he
didn’t follow the company’s protocol for leaving the cockpit. When flight
attendants met the captain and asked him what was wrong, he became
aggressive and banged on the door of the occupied lavatory, saying he
needed to get inside. While the captain was in the lavatory, at the request
of the FO, a flight attendant brought the off-duty captain to the cockpit,
where he assisted the FO with the remainder of the flight. When the
captain exited the lavatory, he began talking to flight attendants,
mentioning “150 souls on board.” The captain walked to the rear of the
aircraft but along the way stopped and asked a male passenger if he had a
problem. The captain then sprinted back to the forward galley and tried to
enter his code to re-enter the cockpit. When the FO announced over the
public address system an order to restrain the captain, several
passengers assisted and brought him down in the forward galley, where
he continued to yell comments about Jesus, September 11, Iraq, Iran, and
terrorists. The FO declared an emergency and diverted the aircraft to
Amarillo (Texas), landing with passengers still restraining the captain in
the galley. He was removed from the aircraft and taken to a facility in
Amarillo for medical evaluation. This incident is being investigated by the

Saab 340B
Mesaba USA
The flight was in cruise with 33 passengers on board when the cockpit
crew was alerted by a passenger that the single flight attendant had
become "no longer coherent" and was performing "numerous unusual
activities." The captain instructed the passenger to get the flight attendant
seated and the beverage cart stowed, and then diverted to a nearby
airport. The flight attendant was transported to a local emergency room
and diagnosed with "acute anxiety." There were no indications that the
flight attendant had any pre-existing medical or psychiatric conditions.

Air Canada
North Atlantic Ocean
The aircraft was
operating a scheduled passenger service from Toronto
(Pearson) to London (Heathrow). On first contact with Shannon ATC the
commander made a PAN call and requested a diversion to Shannon
Airport due to a medical emergency. The First Officer’s behaviour became
belligerent and uncooperative which convinced the commander he was
now dealing with a crew-member who was effectively incapacitated The
aircraft landed safety at Shannon where medical assistance was waiting to
meet the aircraft.

DC-3 Galaxy Air Cargo
The aircraft departed an island runway in Alaska during dark night VFR
conditions without filing a flight plan. The airplane collided with a volcanic
mountain at 1,500 feet amsl on the runway heading, 4.5 miles from the
airport. The captain's medical certificate had previously been considered
for denial after serving 49 months in federal prison for cocaine distribution,
but after review, the FAA issued the captain a first class medical. FAA
medical records for the captain do not contain any record of monitoring for
substance abuse. The first officer's medical had also been considered for
denial after an episode of a loss of consciousness. After a lengthy review
and an appeal to the NTSB, the FAA issued the first officer a second-class
medical. A toxicological examination of the captain, conducted by the FAA,
found cocaine and metabolites of cocaine. A toxicological examination of
the first officer found two different prescription antidepressant drugs.

North Atlantic Ocean
The aeroplane was in cruise at flight level FL330 with a flight crew
consisting of a captain, a duty co-pilot and a relief co-pilot. The duty co-
pilot left the cockpit, and the relief co-pilot took his place in the right seat.
Eight minutes later, the captain left the cockpit in turn, leaving the relief
co-pilot alone. The autopilot was then disengaged and nose-down inputs
were recorded on the FDR. The aeroplane descended. The engines were
shut down. The captain returned to the cockpit and tried to take back
control of the aeroplane. The captain repeatedly asked the co-pilot to help
him to pitch up the aeroplane (“pull with me”) but the latter continued to
command the elevator to pitch nose down. The aeroplane regained
altitude before descending again. It collided with the surface of the ocean.
The reasons that led the co-pilot to take these actions could not be

Air Botswana
The pilot, the only person on board, deliberately flew the aeroplane into
the ground by crashing at Gaborone airport. The validity of his licence had
been revoked for medical reasons.

Silk Air
While the aircraft was in cruise at 35,000 ft, the flight recorders stopped
recording one after the other. The aeroplane suddenly started to descend.
No Mayday message was transmitted before or during the descent. The
aircraft crashed into a river. The Indonesian led safety investigation was
not able to identify any technical problem that would make it possible to
explain the accident though the captain's mental state and sounds on the
CVR led other non-Indonesian agencies to conclude conclusively that the
captain was entirely responsible for the what transpired.

BAC 111
British Airways
The aircraft was in cruise between Birmingham (UK) and Milan (Italy)
when the first officer complained of feeling unwell, stating that he was
"frightened of the altitude". The commander summoned the purser onto
the flight deck using a single chime of the cabin staff call system. The first
officer refused the offer of oxygen and a soft drink. He continued to show
symptoms of anxiety and stress, such that the purser felt unable to comply
with the standard incapacitation drill which calls for the crew member to be
slid back in the seat with the harness locked. The captain decided to
divert to Lyon, France where the plane landed without further incident. The
interviews conducted after the incident revealed that it was not the first
time this first officer acted like this, and he admitted having taken
psychotropic medication, without declaring it to the aeromedical

Royal Air Maroc
The captain disengaged the autopilot and deliberately directed the aircraft
towards the ground. The co-pilot was in the cockpit but was not able to
counter the captain’s actions.

Japan Airlines
After having disengaged the autopilot on final approach at a height of 164
ft, the pilot pushed the control column forward and set the thrust levers on
idle. He then moved the thrust levers of engines 2 and 3 to the reverse idle
position. While the aircraft’s attitude decreased, the co-pilot tried to pull on
the control column. The co-pilot was unable to raise the nose of the
aeroplane because the captain was pushing forward on the control
column with both hands. The aircraft crashed into the sea 510 m short of
the runway. The investigation led by a Commission of the Ministry of
Transport of Japan showed that the captain’s actions resulted from a
mental problem. He was suffering from schizophrenia.

Last edited by Fantome; 22nd Mar 2016 at 04:45.
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 20:52
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I rest my case m'lud.
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Old 30th Aug 2016, 21:51
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Update on FBI investigation into aspects of Lubitz's training, illness and competence.

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Old 24th Mar 2017, 11:33
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The father of Andreas Lubitz has chosen to mark the second anniversary of the crash by saying his son was not responsible, was not depressed, and instead the father and a journalist plan to hypothesise that the son was incapacited by carbon monoxide fumes in the cockpit.

Unsurprisingly this has drawn criticism from the bereaved families, and possibly from other members of the Lubitz family.

Germanwings crash families angered by pilot's father - BBC News
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Old 24th Mar 2017, 11:39
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The father will clutch at any straw and that is understandable. The journalist is nothing but scum and as for being an 'expert'. Well, the facts speak for themselves.
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Old 24th Mar 2017, 11:44
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Fake news, or you couldn't make it up news?

So, by his hypothesis, the carbon monoxide must have changed the altitude on the FMGS from FL380 to 100 feet too?
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Old 24th Mar 2017, 12:10
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The whole hypothesis is based around the toxic cabin air story, which is largely pushed by Tim van Beveren, who acted as the 'expert journalist' here.
You may google this guy and come to your own conclusions.

This guy has written a couple of investigative books that touch on some aspects that deserve to be more thoroughly worked on. The way he promotes it, though, makes me think he is more interested in selling books than actually helping the industry improve.

The cabin air hypothesis does not only imply the alt-selection knob mysteriously turned by itself (twice!), it also doesn't have an explanation why the door wouldn't open.

And of course the date wasn't carefully selected to maximize publicity...
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Old 24th Mar 2017, 12:52
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Doesn't this man have any decency? How painful for the victims. This father should be ashamed, not looking for publicity. The same counts for the so called "expert".
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Old 24th Mar 2017, 13:39
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The father I can understand, being one myself. If my daughter was to be involved in something similar, it would be exceedingly hard for me accept she'd committed suicide, taking all her passengers with her. It is not outside the realm of plausibilty, that I would be in total denial and grasp at any straw trying to prove her innocence. To put it shortly, I do not expect to be acting rationally.

As far as the 'journalist' goes, however, he deserves nothing but utter contempt and ridicule.
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