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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

Old 27th Mar 2015, 12:45
  #1921 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: CYUL
Posts: 854

I couldn't agree more!

If I had taken these tests I probably would not have become an airline pilot because I would have most likely flunked them.

Been flying commercially now for 37 years some of it flying a Dash 7 and a Dash 8 for commuter airlines prior to flying the FK28, 3 years of that based in France (LFPO) for a French carrier so I know how it works in France and how complicated it was then to become an airline pilot in that country.

Since then I went back to a very good corporate gig and I'm glad I left the airline world and I certainly don't have any regrets either.

Some of my friends stayed with the airlines but with all the ups and downs in that industry (pay cuts, mergers and companies closing down) and 9/11 some of them are completely fed up with their work environment are so looking forward to retirement.

It is just not that fun for them anymore and these guys are pilots that loved to fly, they had the passion in their blood and becoming an airline pilot was their dream and now they couldn’t care less about going to work.

Unfortunately for us and upcoming pilots, the industry changed so much in the last 25 years and I don't think it is going to get any better in the future.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 12:47
  #1922 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2010
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Yes, and if the industry expect pilots to declare their fitness truthfully, the employers are gonna have to put measures in place to ensure that those declaring themselves unfit are financially protected.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 12:48
  #1923 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2002
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We have this kind of system in my profession of Medicine. On a state wide basis such formal networks exist, staffed by such Samaritans that you mentioned. They are peers who volunteer for this on a part time basis. Anonymity and discretion are guaranteed. Unfortunately such networks cost money to administer and I am doubtful that any entity in Aviation (FAA, airlines, unions) would be eager to pay for it.
I mentioned earlier on in this thread that a 'Supervision' model as is practiced for example in the medical field is long overdue in aviation. We have had plenty of very hard lessons and learned from many of them, but not all. While technology and maintenance have vastly improved, we still believe that the humans at the controls should perform flawlessy day in and out without giving them much attention beyond checking their technical skills at regular intervals. This is not enough. We must also create good working environments, work patterns and a system that addresses the psychological needs of people.

Regarding the added costs, an old aviation adage springs to mind:"If you think safety is expensive, try an accident"
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 12:49
  #1924 (permalink)  
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I am not sure that there is no direct evidence, but I am sure that it has not been made public if it exists. There is no doubt that the facts strongly indicate that this was a murder suicide by the F/O, but further facts are required to confirm this theory.

Clearly, the new revelations regarding the mental problems that the F/O was suffering go along way towards explaining his actions and a possible motive.

It would be interesting to know what drugs he was prescribed or were found at his home. It may be that he ODed on his meds.... this would explain his "laconic" interaction to the landing briefing...

I would not like to jump to the conclusion that he deliberately killed the passengers and crew; certainly the family and friends of the victims will not find it any easier to bear knowing that it was a callous brutal act of murder.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 12:49
  #1925 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by DespairingTraveller View Post
What that amounts to is an unequivocal statement that the aviation industry views every one of its FD crew as an unacceptably high safety risk if left alone.
Exactly, but let me qualify that.

There are many jobs where the risk to a lone worker is deemed so high that two people must be present. Now the risk from any event concerning a lone flight deck worker should have required a second person to be present regardless of this week's tragedy.

You could argue also that long haul 3-pilot operations should have a very experienced number 2, a bit like a ship's officers.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 12:49
  #1926 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2005
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Does anyone know, if German Wings, offer sick pay? or was this a zero hour contract with no sick benefits. It has gone on long enough this, young guys saddled with debt, are being forced to fly as they will not get paid. Be it a head cold or more serious issues.

It has to stop

I hope this incident, becomes the 'colgan' of europe, and with the press assistance and coverage, help from unions etc, some of the rot can end. It is just a shame that the bean counters always win until blood is spilled, then it takes the media to raise awareness.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 12:51
  #1927 (permalink)  
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Basil, apologies, I did not make myself clear. I meant compulsory for the medical staff certifying a person unfit for work to report it to the relevant authorities for certain critical professions.

In the UK it is.
This would, as others have pointed out, require reasonable sickness absence benefits to be in place for all concerned.....
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 12:55
  #1928 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2013
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I flew to Brussels and back yesterday and it occurred to me that I was now viewing the pilots as a possible threat for the first time.
Blindside, next time you have this thought remind yourself that worldwide there are about 65,000 commercial airline flights per day
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 12:59
  #1929 (permalink)  
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What is unfolding is that it is appearing more and more likely that the two crew members in the cockpit at all times rule may have been beneficial and perhaps avoided this incident.

However, it still remains true that it is near impossible to stop a determined pilot from intentionally crashing. But what of of a less determined and disoriented pilot? Perhaps in these circumstances it could have been prevented?
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 12:59
  #1930 (permalink)  
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If you keep Doctor A for your problems and Doctor B for your colds and flu and if Doctor A's records never makes it to your employers medical file then the medical certificate approval is flawed.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 13:00
  #1931 (permalink)  
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"There are many jobs where the risk to a lone worker is deemed so high that two people must be present."

Lone worker / dual control / segregation of duties are done for lots of reasons, but it's hard to think of many examples where the plan is that if A goes out of control, B stops them by force. Dual-key systems for nuclear release control are deliberately designed so that if one person refuses the other cannot physically perform the launch, but that comes at the end of a system of checks and screening that simply wouldn't scale out to "everyone with a pilot's license". And the two launch controllers are armed, which makes the "B stops A" part rather easier.

In finance, it's common to have two people present when there's a lot of cash around, but that's about witnesses and audit, and is gladly accepted by the staff as it protects them as much as protecting the institution. Segregation of duties takes that a step further and prevents one person from raising purchase orders and paying the resulting invoice (the most common form of fraud in business). Lone worker systems for security guards, prison staff and so on are about protecting the safety of the worker.

Systems which start from the assumption that staff might commit immediately dangerous acts and need to be stopped by other staff are probably impossible to design in civilian environments. Aside from anything else, because it involves authorising the staff to (in the limit) use deadly force against their colleagues. Taken at face value, this case raises very difficult questions, and the old adage that for every complex problem there is a solution which is simple and wrong leaps to mind.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 13:00
  #1932 (permalink)  
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Regarding the illness the FO is said to have "hidden", how many times have you read questions on here along the lines of "I have suffered depression in the past so should I avoid telling my AME?" The answer is NO every time. Tell them everything.
Old 27th Mar 2015, 13:01
  #1933 (permalink)  
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One can only think that the passengers on the outbound flight were extremely lucky that the captain didn't (or presumably didn't) leave the flightdeck!
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 13:02
  #1934 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by 21Elite View Post
Depression is a mental illness. This should have put a big question mark over his suitability to fly a commercial or any other type of aeroplane. It would seem to me that Lufthansa/German Wings are culpable. They knew he had been ill and yet allowed him to take charge of a Commercial Aircraft and the lives of 150 people.
...and that is surely entirely the wrong response! We don't want people flying who _are_ ill, and the way to ensure that is not to make ever having been ill a bar to the career. Because if you make any depressive illness a career ender, nobody will ever report that they might be suffering from one again, and if you make the medical profession don people seeking help in to their employers, people simply won't seek help. You'll achieve an overnight 100% cut in the number of people who are known to have depression in their past flying planes.., and future depressed pilots will only ever be diagnosed in accident investigation reports...
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 13:04
  #1935 (permalink)  
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Perhaps he suspected that his condition WAS going to be reported by his medical consultant - especially if he'd been ignoring sick notes for a while - and that having flown against medical orders, he would be fired, disgraced, and have his psychological problems exposed to his family and friends?

This might explain why discussion of landing arrangements at Dusseldorf where the trouble was waiting for him, caused his demeanor to change.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 13:06
  #1936 (permalink)  
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Does anyone know, if German Wings, offer sick pay? or was this a zero hour contract with no sick benefits. It has gone on long enough this, young guys saddled with debt, are being forced to fly as they will not get paid. Be it a head cold or more serious issues.
I can understand to take any opportunity to better the T&Cs in general. But in this case you are barking up the wrong tree. Not only was the flight training funded by Lufthansa (although he would have to pay back a portion once he got a job within Lufthansa, Germanwings is part of Lufthansa), his entry level pay was around 59k a year and yes, sick pay for up to six weeks is mandatory by law in germany and unionized carriers usually have longer periods depending of lenght of service for up to 9 months of sick pay. There is no repercussion to calling in sick. However, every pilot has to additionally be aware of Part-MED of the EASA regulation which could lead to being unfit to fly for a prolonged period of time.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 13:07
  #1937 (permalink)  
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It was reported that his demeanor changed to "curt" after the Captain discussed the "landing procedures." It would be helpful to hear more about this discussion, and what led the FO to respond curtly.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 13:08
  #1938 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2003
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Originally Posted by UAV689
Does anyone know, if German Wings, offer sick pay? or was this a zero hour contract with no sick benefits. It has gone on long enough this, young guys saddled with debt, are being forced to fly as they will not get paid. Be it a head cold or more serious issues.

It has to stop

I hope this incident, becomes the 'colgan' of europe, and with the press assistance and coverage, help from unions etc, some of the rot can end. It is just a shame that the bean counters always win until blood is spilled, then it takes the media to raise awareness.
Not the right place or time to push your agenda.

Germanwings pays sick leave as any company would be required to. The first officers are well paid (around €60k p.a.), can repay their debt in small installments and have good union representation. Of course, management would like pay to be lower, and unions would like pay to be higher. This is Lufthansa you are talking about, not some dodgy charter or business jet operator, and not a US regional airline either.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 13:09
  #1939 (permalink)  
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If he has indeed relapsed in to some form of depression (or other mental illness) then I can understand the apparently torn up sick note, after years of fighting to recover and then finally doing well, admitting even to yourself that it's come back is an awful situation to be in.

I am also curious as to whether he was on any kind of medication. Even though I live in Germany myself now I haven't seen a doctor here regarding mental issues, I only have however in the UK and given societies stigma towards mental health as a whole I can't see the 2 being worlds apart. I was only ever given antidepressants at my worst, the odd referral that came to nothing but the main thing was 'take these pills and see how you are in a few weeks'. At the 3rd lot I tried the depressed 21 year old I was became hooked on the 'high' from venlafaxine until it just didn't happen anymore and I came down to earth with a massive thud, and, ironically it was whilst taking these pills that should have made me better that I wanted and almost did commit suicide.

Now granted I didn't nearly take another 149 with me at that moment but there were times even driving down the motorway thinking I could just swerve off, that could, had I of done it caused a massive pile up but at no point did I think about that, my only thought was that I just couldn't go on feeling that way anymore, noone really could or wanted to help. When you feel like that everything could be an opportunity or you could plan it down to the final detail, imo his actions if they were to end his life could have been a mere thought once upon a time of how he could do it and then on that day the chance presented itself, I don't think we'll ever know.

I am not justifying any actions (if this was even what the cause was) but I can understand the thoughts that could go through someones mind in that position.

I personally feel if anything should come out of this other than sticking cc in the flight deck when someone needs the loo is that companies and management NEED to somehow be more understanding towards mental illness.
At the same time as I mentioned above I ended up having to tell my employer to not lose my job and that was just awful. (I'll add that I was a pax service agent so no where near as much responsibility but I still had crazy shifts which don't help) My HR manager said 'we all have bad days' and I got no help or support, in fact they even prevented it so I can totally understand why he would not tell anyone.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 13:11
  #1940 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by birmingham View Post
If, when all is finalised, it turns out that the accident was caused by a seriously mentally ill man hiding his condition from his employers because he feared for his career our industry will need to enable doctors to directly report serious concerns.
AFAIK the reporting requirement is already in place for specialized aviation physicians, who conduct aviation medical certifications.

General physicians and health care professionals are not in scope. There is precedent in mandatory reporting of mental health issues of patients to authorities (for example firearms licensing authorities), but these systems have two very serious concerns, which make them more harmful than beneficial:

1) Privacy and undue influence concerns. The health care professional cannot have access to the patient's licensing information and cannot rely on the patient to tell if she is in any special reporting category (firearms, security professions, aviation or other transportation, etc.). Which means that the HCP has to report every patient with mental health deficits to authorities, with most of the reports being false positives for the special category participation of the patient.

Even if the regulations mandate that all reports must be destroyed immediately, if no special category involvement is detected, it erodes the confidence of both patients and HCPs that the personal data stays protected. It also fosters a culture of distrust between the patient and the doctor, which is harmful to a stable treatment relationship.

In the undue influence category it also empowers the HCP to advance their own perceptions and ideals both about the patient or their background and the industry/special category. In the firearms case, anti-gun HCP may report a patient simply because she discovers the patient is a gun owner.

There are already cases of this, including characters such as a psychiatrist specializing in criminal psychology, who is also a city council member representing a leftist party and who claims as a professional opinion that every gun owner is mentally unstable because of gun ownership. And she gets to keep her job as a doctor, and her post as an elected official and a politician. Imagine for example a HCP, who has lost a loved one in an aviation accident. Or one who holds highly critical views of anyone in the security professions.

2) A person suffering from mental problems is inclined to hide said problems from his employer, or more specifically a pilot is inclined to hide his problems to keep his medical and license, but is able to still seek treatment from the general healthcare system. If he knows there is mandatory reporting, why do you think he would seek treatment at all, if hiding the problem from the employer and licensing/certification authorities is his intention?

Mandatory reporting will increase untreated cases and is likely to increase symptomatic people in cockpits. It will also increase false positives. It will also increase accidents resulting from illnesses unrelated to mental health, because all doctor visits will decline for the fear of them turning into inquisitions to the mind instead of the body. It is a common occurrence of complaints of many symptoms being labelled as psychosomatic, after extensive diagnosing attemps fail to discover a physical fault.
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