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Bloomberg: Murder-Suicides by Pilots Are Vexing Airlines as Deaths Mount

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Bloomberg: Murder-Suicides by Pilots Are Vexing Airlines as Deaths Mount

Old 14th Jun 2022, 13:53
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Bloomberg: Murder-Suicides by Pilots Are Vexing Airlines as Deaths Mount

For decades, commercial airline travel has gotten progressively safer. But one cause of deaths has stubbornly persisted: pilots who intentionally crash in murder-suicides.

Preliminary evidence suggests the crash of a China Eastern Airlines Corp. jet in March may be the latest such tragedy, a person familiar with the investigation said. If confirmed, that would make it the fourth since 2013, bringing deaths in those crashes to 554.

So as aircraft become more reliable and pilots grow less susceptible to errors, fatalities caused by murder-suicides are becoming an increasingly large share of the total. While intentional acts traditionally aren’t included in air-crash statistics, they would be the second-largest category of deaths worldwide if they were, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. By comparison, 1,745 people died as a result of pilot error, mechanical failures or other causes on Western-built jets from 2012 through 2021.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...s-deaths-mount
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Old 14th Jun 2022, 15:03
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Not that long ago the career path to a front seat in an airliner was not for the faint of heart. You learned the hard way, through bitter and painful experience, that aviation is a tough and unforgiving business.
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Old 14th Jun 2022, 21:53
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If the "person familiar with the investigation" has any roll in that investigation, it is my sincere wish that they be identified, sacked and blacklisted from any further involvement in aviation safety! However a more likely scenario is that this "person" is pure fiction and the media is simply amplifying some of the uninformed crap from these pages.
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Old 15th Jun 2022, 00:28
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Originally Posted by phylosocopter View Post
If the "person familiar with the investigation" has any roll in that investigation, it is my sincere wish that they be identified, sacked and blacklisted from any further involvement in aviation safety! However a more likely scenario is that this "person" is pure fiction and the media is simply amplifying some of the uninformed crap from these pages.
it could be someone like Geoffrey Thomas who has no qualifications or experience in aviation, no technical background, yet news agencies quote him on aviation accidents. Being familiar with the investigation could simply mean they have read the CAAC press releases.

Almost everything regarding in newspapers is written by people who have no idea what they are talking about, they were the arts students at university.


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Old 15th Jun 2022, 07:36
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In America…

Solution: give each pilot and each cabin crew a gun, and make sure there are at least two in the flight deck at all times.

in briefing room: have each crew member sign a form “I am not suicidal. Today”

simples

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Old 15th Jun 2022, 13:12
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Originally Posted by 70 Mustang View Post
Solution: give each pilot and each cabin crew a gun, and make sure there are at least two in the flight deck at all times.

in briefing room: have each crew member sign a form “I am not suicidal. Today”

simples
It's been a few years, but I seem to recall that after 9-11 some American pilots were carrying personal weapons on the flight deck.
(I'll ask a recently retired Southwest Captain I know if he did, because I think that he did for a while if I try to resurrect some conversations we had while he was still flying...). That would offer a precedent for armed FOs and Captains on the flight deck. (Though I suspect that your recommendation is made with tongue squarely in cheek).
Not sure if that was a thing in other places.
I love your screening form proposal.
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Old 15th Jun 2022, 14:31
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Originally Posted by Lonewolf_50 View Post
It's been a few years, but I seem to recall that after 9-11 some American pilots were carrying personal weapons on the flight deck.
(I'll ask a recently retired Southwest Captain I know if he did, because I think that he did for a while if I try to resurrect some conversations we had while he was still flying...). That would offer a precedent for armed FOs and Captains on the flight deck. (Though I suspect that your recommendation is made with tongue squarely in cheek).
Not sure if that was a thing in other places.
I love your screening form proposal.
Sounds like the Federal Flight Deck Officer program. I remember it was pretty much under the radar until a US Airways captain inadvertantly put a round through the side of an Airbus (as noted in the Wiki piece). Not sure if it's still an active program.
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Old 16th Jun 2022, 02:41
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What is the rate of suicide deaths of pilots, of all causes not just by crashing, compared to other professions? Is it higher than for doctors or lawyers? Being an airline pilot was once a stable career with good pay and conditions. Covid standowns are just one of a number of situations that have changed the career. If the question of murder suicides is vexing the airlines then maybe they need to look at themselves and their part in the erosion of pilot mental health.
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Old 16th Jun 2022, 02:59
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"Hundreds of pilots currently flying are managing depressive symptoms perhaps without the possibility of treatment due to the fear of negative career impacts. This study found 233 (12.6%) airline pilots meeting depression threshold and 75 (4.1%) pilots reporting having suicidal thoughts. Although results have limited generalizability, there are a significant number of active pilots suffering from depressive symptoms. We recommend airline organizations increase support for preventative mental health treatment. Future research will evaluate additional risk factors of depression such as sleep and circadian rhythm disturbances. "

From 'Airplane pilot mental health and suicidal thoughts: a cross-sectional descriptive study via anonymous web-based survey; by Wu, et al.

Results: The weighted prevalence of S[uicide] I[ntervention] was 2.84% in the past week, 5.50% in the past year, and 18.49% during a lifetime.

From 'Prevalence of suicidal ideation and associated risk factors in the general population' by Lee, et al.



TL;DR suicide ideation in pilots versus general population was 70% greater.

Caveat; suicide ideation is not actual suicide but it would be a precursor. The data is just not fine enough for rates of actual suicide amongst pilots. However; anecdotally I know first hand of some pilots who have committed suicide. How many pilots do I know? Hard to guesstimate but let's say 200? I'd hazard a WAG and say the rate of suicide is less than 1%.





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Old 17th Jun 2022, 06:47
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Originally Posted by 70 Mustang
I think the simple matter of ensuring there is another person in the flight deck at all times, would keep the humanity in even the most depressed pilot.
I doubt that would be the case……….

And it’s not just a recent kind of behavior; a JAL skipper tried to crash a DC-8 at Haneda some years ago on final approach. There was an FO and an FE in the flight deck with him at the time!
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Old 17th Jun 2022, 07:23
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"Tried to crash a DC-8...." ???

I think you will find he succeeded with 24 fatalities and a written off aircraft. The crash reports are easily available online.
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Old 17th Jun 2022, 13:27
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Originally Posted by ferry pilot View Post
Not that long ago the career path to a front seat in an airliner was not for the faint of heart. You learned the hard way, through bitter and painful experience, that aviation is a tough and unforgiving business.
Surely the best way for anything in life
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Old 17th Jun 2022, 14:15
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Murder-Suicides by Pilots Are Vexing Airlines as Deaths Mount - Bloomberg

It is really a good piece of journalism by bloomberg, a wide variety of factors are described in an unemotional, fact-driven way. The main problem is also described: how to tackle the problem? All ideas so far have other much bigger disadvantages, as properly described in the article.

May be there is just a residual risk we have to live with? At least until someone really comes up with a convincing solution. So far I haven't seen one.
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Old 17th Jun 2022, 16:11
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Originally Posted by anxiao
"Tried to crash a DC-8...." ???

I think you will find he succeeded with 24 fatalities and a written off aircraft. The crash reports are easily available online.
I’m well aware that he succeeded thank you! I remember the photos of the semi submerged jet in the newspapers of the day; apologies if you didn’t get the ironic style of my prose😎
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Old 17th Jun 2022, 16:45
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Our perception of safety issues depends on how they are framed, which together with biases of thought, shape our interpretations.

Bloomberg highlights fatalities, but there are very few safety events; compare this with other aviation events / fatalities.

Beware of well meaning ‘safety interventions’ ; do not create unforeseen issues.
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Old 17th Jun 2022, 18:13
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It's going to be near impossible to prevent the PF from intentionally crashing an aircraft if they wait for the proper time - such as takeoff or final approach. A quick full nose down command at low altitude simply won't provide sufficient time for useful intervention. Heck, that Atlas Air 767 pilot did a bang-up job of it during approach into Houston a couple years back, and he wasn't even trying.
Short of giving HAL complete control (at which time why even have pilots), the only way to prevent suicidal pilots crashing aircraft is to identify them before hand and stop them from getting onboard.
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Old 17th Jun 2022, 20:46
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the only way to prevent suicidal pilots crashing aircraft is to identify them before hand and stop them from getting onboard.
Everyone agree on that but no-one knows how to do it. In any country that is. The huge discussion/debates and various ideas after Germanwings did not come to anything in the end, because there is no real solution.
Most parents who lost a teenage kid to suicide will tell you they did not see it coming and they lived in the same house. The few that saw their kids was in distress and wanted to help could not prevent it either.. Dealing with mental illnesses is extremely difficult and is a subject very few want to talk about.,
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Old 18th Jun 2022, 09:37
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I remember going to work in the late 70s-80s most people I flew loved flying, at that time a few individuals where a little different however never once did I think they where suicidal.
I guess if they had tried the fire axe would have been very handy.
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Old 19th Jun 2022, 15:56
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Originally Posted by phylosocopter View Post
If the "person familiar with the investigation" has any roll in that investigation, it is my sincere wish that they be identified, sacked and blacklisted from any further involvement in aviation safety! However a more likely scenario is that this "person" is pure fiction and the media is simply amplifying some of the uninformed crap from these pages.
Bloomberg is a reputable news agency. I doubt that they are making this up.
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Old 19th Jun 2022, 19:29
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I agree with pretty well all the above but would like to add one more thing.
As school trustees we noticed a loss of resilience in our school population. I have several ideas about why and how to improve it however they mostly go against the grain of current educational thinking and going against the grain in such an organisation is both futile and likely to get one ostracized and then you have no influence at all.
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