Policy Matter

Government mulls psychometric tests for pilots of Indian airlines to check mental health

As fitness screening for pilots after the recent German wings crash Boeing_747-237B,_Air-India_AN0574902come under scanner, mid- term psychometric tests for pilots of Indian air carriers are being mulled by the Government to detect any cockpit crew who are too mentally ill to fly.

The country’s civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is likely to be soon asked to prepare fresh guidelines for the airlines in the country to conduct the psychometric tests for pilots and flying crew.
The Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma felt that such tests were “a must”.

He said the ministry will hold consultations with the DGCA soon for framing fresh rules keeping the recent air accident in mind.

“It’s an important issue. I think this is a must. We should carry out such tests (psychometric) from time to time. We are going to discuss the issue soon,” Sharma told PTI in Delhi.

The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 last Tuesday has raised questions whether airlines all over the world are doing enought to detect pilots who are too mentally sick to fly.

European investigators are focusing on the psychological state of the 27-year-old German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz who deliberately smashed an Airbus carrying 150 people into a French Alpine mountainside. Lubitz is believed to have locked his Captain out after the senior officer left the flight deck.

The crash also triggered calls within India for evaluation of mental faculties of pilots of carriers in the country. Dr Rama Manna, senior Counsellor at Kolkata-based Indian Institute of Psychometry (IIP), said psychometry tests should be made mandatory as it helps in ascertaining “concentration level of a candidate, reaction to any situation and sense of responsibility”.

She also favoured having a repeat of such tests if a person especially pilot or cabin crew in going for mental stress or has had a tragedy on personal front.

On the cockpit policy, India follows the guidelines of US Aviation regulator and had already announced a “cockpit policy” in 2010 under which if one of the crew members had to leave the cockpit during the non-critical phases of flight, the cabin crew is required to be inside the cockpit and occupy the observer seat.

Civil aviation authorities have reiterated that in case one pilot leaves the flight deck, cabin crew shall be in the flight deck and will occupy one of the observer seats. The cabin crew in the flight deck will remain vigilant in case of subtle incapacitation of the flight deck crew or any other situation that requires assistance.

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