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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:09
  #1941 (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, 14:11
  #1942 (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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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:14
  #1943 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by xyzzy View Post
"There are many jobs where the risk to a lone worker is deemed so high that two people must be present."

protecting the safety of the worker
Or the consequences of any thing happening to that worker. I was not limiting my comment to the issues you cited.

Take a simple emergency, say fumes in cockpit. The PNF, or other suitably qualified person can start the actions without having to fly the aircraft.

PS, as an aside, how many times do pilots in a 2-man cockpit practice single man operation in the simulator?
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:14
  #1944 (permalink)  
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Air Snoop

I would question why the Captain felt it necessary to leave the Flt Deck so soon after departure, and to hand control to an inexperienced FO shortly before the aircraft reached cruise altitude. A "comfort break"? What are they talking about, I flew shorthaul for years and can't recall either of us being taken that short! Or ever 'going down the back' during the whole flight for that matter!
I flew shorthaul for years and blah blah blah. So the Captain needed a wee, big deal, it happens. Are you suggesting that potential pilots must be able to display ultimate bladder control before being issued a license. What a weapons grade nutsack!
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:16
  #1945 (permalink)  
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I already appreciate the volume of uneventful flights and how unlikely this scenario is but that doesn't change anything that I wrote.

Public opinion isn't necessarily rational.

I think it is rational to acknowledge that people could now view pilots differently/less favourably and possibly for the first time. In most previous incidents the pilots have also been viewed as victims (just like the passengers).

I fly a great deal with work and I'm not a nervous flyer. I believe I'm rational so if I was thinking it, then others will be too. I think it's less rational to not consider it, even briefly. After 9/11 I was more aware of people standing by the toilets, approaching the cockpit door etc. Do I think that everyone standing by the toilets is a terrorist? Not for a second, but I am more aware of what is going on around me on a plane.

This has the potential to have huge ramifications for pilots and the industry in general - particularly if passengers do lose some confidence in the people at the front.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:16
  #1946 (permalink)  
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Is there any evidence the FO simply did not have a panic attack and pass out because he was nervous? Thinking he was about to pass out set the aircraft on a decent thinking it was hypoxia? then having a seizure.
Is there any evidence the cabin door switch was being held in the lock position?
and not just conjecture because of the timing it took the CO to have a pee?
If not, the switch may simply have been in the normal position and the CO forgot the emergency code?
Any evidence to prove this hypothesis wrong?
Also if the FO wanted to commit suicide and mass murder, surely just shut off the fuel supply with his left hand?
Or not.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:19
  #1947 (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.

It has to stop
Enough with the histionics, nobody is forcing anyone to fly and debt is something willingly assumed and should be planned for. Tens of thousands of pro pilots have done it w/o snapping and bore the borden to a larger degree and for a lot longer than this kid who got a fast track into an airliner.

Furthermore, and regardless of any company's policy, it's incumbent upon the aviation professional to ground himself if he/she knows they don't meet the standards/requirements of his/her medical, with or without a doctor's statement of fitness for duty. That's a trust between pilot and passenger and exists even for a PPL.

There's no excuse, financial or otherwise, for any pilot to take a cockpit seat with passengers in back knowing they are unfit to fly. Here in this case there's evidence he even had a medical Doctor's evaluation stating he was unfit. I can't believe anyone could believe there could be an excuse or "pressure" great enough to do it. If he did, it's just is further evidence he should have been washed-out of aviation the first time he needed an extended time-off for treatment of mental health issues the first time around during training.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:22
  #1948 (permalink)  
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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.
Thats not going to help I'm afraid:
1. Mandatory reporting may prevent people seeking medical attention. Different jurisdictions have different approaches to the issue of patients with epilepsy driving. Some authorities favour mandatory disclosure to the licensing body, but there is evidence this prevents epileptic patients declaring their illness and obtaining medication.
2. There is mandatory reporting for a few specific issues such as child abuse. Sadly most children killed by their parents are well known to the authorities. Often a "child at risk" is reported multiple times (by doctors, teachers, police etc) during the last few weeks or months of life. The problem isn't notification, but rather effective intervention.
3. A pilot seeing a doctor for depression or other mental illness will likely declare another occupation if there was mandatory disclosure. Absolutely guarantee this happens already out of concern of disclosure.

This issue of mental illness doesn't have a simple solution. Mental illness is common, but only a tiny proportion of people affected by mental illness will do anything like this. There are no tests that can predict if someone is high risk. Routine psychological screening can be employed, but intelligent people with insight can easily "spoof" the test. "Do you ever have feelings of hopelessness.' Umm, think I better say "No' for that.

A more effective measure would be being rostered with the same (or a few) colleagues. If you get to know someone, you will be more likely to pick up a change. Ongoing observation by a colleague over weeks and months will beat a 10 minute screening assessment. Small specialist military units will often spot when one of the team is not right. Larger military units much less so. However I am sure this rostering presents almost insurmountable logistic challenges to the airline.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:24
  #1949 (permalink)  
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...and I really cannot see how this accident, or reaction, is going to lead to any improved reporting or open culture re mental illness in Flight Crew.

Just imagine if you were suffering, and considering going to the Doc today. Chances you would?
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:26
  #1950 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by deefer dog View Post
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.
With only 100 hours on the A320 as reported previously then he would still be under line training. Perhaps his progress wasn't up to standard or that the authority gradient with his TRI was too steep or there was some conflict between the two previously which he took to heart? Such human factor issues will no doubt be investigated.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:28
  #1951 (permalink)  
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@deefer dog

"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."

Yes, I was wondering why the landing was being discussed/briefed when the aircraft had not even reached TOC. Perhaps something happened on the outbound leg which prompted a "discussion"at BCN and it carried on in the departure climb out. Unless a sector was VERY short ( in which case the arrival was normally briefed on the ground before take off ) the normal point of arrival briefing would be about 10 minutes before TOD when all pertinent information was to hand. i.e R/W in use , weather etc.

Bit unusual to say the least ?
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:28
  #1952 (permalink)  
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This has the potential to have huge ramifications for pilots and the industry in general - particularly if passengers do lose some confidence in the people at the front.
But it won't - within 2 weeks most of the travelling public will have forgotten all about this supported by reports than "airlines are modifying procedures...etc".

IMHO this an extremely rare event but is not without precedence (assuming this was a "deliberate" act).
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:32
  #1953 (permalink)  
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When will this hysteria stop?
We live in a constant state of fear. And we keep on feeding this irrational fear. Just look at this thread and we can recognize any number of fears:

-Fear for the occasional terrorist pax – so let’s weld the door shut
-But if the bad/ill person is to be found inside the cockpit – let’s have CC at ready
-But CC could be also a terrorist – let’s have air marshals
-Air marshal can be bad guys too – etc etc ad nauseam

The main factor here is: we all fear each other. We fear that the person next to you is not what he/she appears to be. So let's implement an absurdity of safety precautionary measures each time a freaky situation occurs. And why stop there, let’s implement another absurdity of safety precautionary measures just to ensure the safety precautionary measures are indeed safe and followed to the tee.

We’re behaving like rats, always in fear of being jumped by any hidden predator.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:33
  #1954 (permalink)  
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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.
While that's an entirely understandable point of view, such a hard line probably increases the problem.

Imagine having spent so much on training, the pressure not to report depression or mental illness is likely to be immense. It is an instant end to your career when in all likelihood you either believe, or it might even be entirely possible, for it to be controlled.

It will be a costly, but probably far more effective and cheaper, in the long run to have more permissive sick leave allowances and more open reporting of mental health issues with an accepting culture.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:41
  #1955 (permalink)  
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A very sad event all around - some interesting knee jerk responses from likes of EasyJet as an example, For once the US had a good idea on this kind of thing with the two in cockpit rule and one wonders why EASA didn’t pick it up-there is after all hardly any cost in having an appropriate CC member park a cart across the aisle in front of the door to add another barrier as they enter the flight deck for maybe 5 minutes two or three times per trip. As someone said earlier they only need to be able to open the door not fly the plane.
Suicide and depression are awful, I had a close friend when in my 20s who had a complete mental collapse and it took him a year to recover- and although sympathetically treated by the company (and indeed especially by our rather tough and seemingly heartless head of department) his career never fully did although he still did Ok he was never seen as management material just a respected expert and of course he wasn't in a position to kill anyone. He did however spontaneous go from normality to doing something very very odd in seconds with no warning at all and that is the problem – did the captain, an older man with a lot more experience have any inkling one wonders and even if he did is there a process in place for him to seek timely advice about such a concern.
. In fact about that time-mid 70s there was another horrific accident at Moorgate on the London underground where a driver didn't stop and the station is a deep level terminus with a concrete wall 50 feet into the tunnel. Lots of discussion about the drivers mental state at the time-never happened again thank god but given what’s known about mental illness today there must be one or two tube drivers minimum who have the potential to ‘lose it’.
Finally, I like PPRuNe and try and respect the ethos that professional pilots mostly know best and indeed there are always some daft comments on here in these circumstances-the nadir being the escaping tigers in the MH mystery of course. However most of us with an interests in the airline world do know quite a bit about our own world and sometimes those worlds overlap and I cannot see the harm in comments from aviation engineers, scientists, doctors etc. commenting on and aspect of their world that has impacted on aviation. If someone says I am doctor and think Airbus FMCs should be designed to prevent this then by all means be disdainful but If someone says I am a meteorologist for example, and in incident x this was a very unusual weather pattern etc. etc. perhaps others should listen and perhaps learn something which could be very relevant to their job.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:41
  #1956 (permalink)  
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I do not believe there is definite method to monitor psychological illness. A machine can be repaired. An organic disease or physiological condition may be curable but psychology deals with human behaviour. That makes it impossible to have straight jacket norms for mental health. Aggression, sadness, short temper, attention deficit, excessively passive, extremely fearful, phobias all these things can be classified as illnesses. Every human being has these emotions and unless chronic disfunctionality is evident you will have to let them continue. There are subjective criteria for mental sickness and is very difficult to apply. The treatments also have their own credibility issues. The word cure is rarely used in psychiatry. It is only to control within acceptable behaviour norms.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:42
  #1957 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by andyhargreaves View Post
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.
I don't know about the EASA medical, but for the Australian Class 1 medical, you are specifically asked whether you suffer from depression. I've never answered in the affirmative for this so I don't what happens if you do, but I can imagine the reissue of your class 1 medical will be withheld pending further evaluation.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:43
  #1958 (permalink)  
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sadest thing ever

I know this is mostly speculation, but:

So there's this young man who loves to fly - like so many of us
He lives his dream, getting his ATPL with Lufthansa - probably the most prestigeous way in Germany.
During his training, he is suspended for six months, supposedly due to depression.
He recovers, regains his medical, continues his education and lands a right seat job.
Then the black dog returns and he fears for his future, keeping the diagnosis a secret, probably thinking he'll be able to deal with it.
Obviously, it only needed a minor thing for him to push him over the edge.

the more I hear about this incident, the more it saddens me.
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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:43
  #1959 (permalink)  
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As Lufthansa are in the same rules as the rest of the EU, they could fall under the cover of Corporate Manslaughter caused by not being on top of the problems this 2nd pilot seems to have been involved with, there is more to come out about this young man and I don't think it will be good for the main company............ did he have a Girl....or boy..friend,... apparently he was also going through a recent breakup..!! source BBC news Friday the 27th

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Old 27th Mar 2015, 14:46
  #1960 (permalink)  
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I just erased what I was going to write in an attempt to play 'devils advocate' but, frankly, I can find no way to to actually be a 'devils advocate' in this instance.
OK - he might have suddenly become unconscious as a result of whatever medication his doctor prescribed but he locked the cockpit door to make it impossible for the Captain to re-enter and then he altered the altitude setting to set up the rapid descent that resulted in ground impact.
Both these actions were deliberate - there's no getting away from that.
The industry can argue over differing methods of securing the flight deck - 2 in there at all times, more complex and draconian security policies and SOP's etc. but it is all quite pointless if you have someone who has made the decision to end it all and (more importantly) doesn't care that their actions will result in the mass murder of 149 innocent men, women and children who's safety and safe delivery to destination is his responsibility.
This man, in what he has done, is no different to a person with a bomb strapped to them intent on taking out themselves and as many bystanders as possible or the likes of Andreas Brievik who cold-bloodily targeted his victims one by one and until someone comes up with a rational explanation as to why the cockpit door was locked and the altitude setting altered then I have to accept that these were, indeed, his deliberate actions.
To my mind the fault here lies with the doctor who, knowing that the man was a pilot and the extent of his illness, gave him a sick note but failed to inform the airline the man worked for (unless he did, in which case we are into a whole new scenario or he was not the FO's regular doctor and simply didn't know what the man did for a living).
The lesser responsibility lies with the airline. Was this man really fit to fly? His 'breakdown' during training notwithstanding, 600 plus hours on type is not an insignificant number of flights and if he's shown no signs of mental disorder during any one of those flights or during regular airmeds, who was to know that he was a time-bomb just waiting to go off.
I'm sorry if I've gone on a bit but I am writing this in an effort to marshal my own thoughts and to understand just how this could happen.
And sadly, I'm no further forward.

Last edited by Xeque; 27th Mar 2015 at 15:00.
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