FAA Takes Steps to Change Rules Regarding Mental and Emotional Health of Pilots - NBC 7 San Diego

FAA Takes Steps to Change Rules Regarding Mental and Emotional Health of Pilots

Commercial pilots must see an FAA-approved doctor every six to 12 months to maintain their license.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    FAA Seeks New Mental Health Restrictions for Pilots

    The FAA is consulting medical professionals and pilots to come up with new rules regarding mental and emotional evaluations of those in the cockpit. NBC 7's Dave Summers reports on May 29, 2015. (Published Saturday, May 30, 2015)

    The FAA has announced it will begin consulting medical professionals and pilots to come up with new rules regarding mental and emotional evaluations of those in the cockpit.

    The moves comes after Germanwings flight 9525 in March, where the pilot is suspected of crashing the plane into the French Alps on purpose, killing all passengers on board.

    Before ever getting into the cockpit of a plane students are required to have a full physical and mental evaluation.

    Commercial pilots must see an FAA-approved doctor every six to 12 months to maintain their license.

    San Diego International Airport is the busiest single runway commercial airport in the country. Some boarding their flights on Friday expressed a mix of concern and support for the step toward new rules. 

    Daniel Chamberlain, a passenger, was taking his first flight of the year on Friday. Even months after the Germanwings flight, Chamberlain said flying Friday made him nervous.

    “Yeah it worries me,” he said. “I have never had anxiety toward flying until this flight.”

    Air and Space Museum President Jim Kidrick was a Navy pilot for 21 years. He said the newly announced measures are complex.

    “The difficulty is this isn't an exact science, we're never ever going to be perfect, we'll only be as good as we can be,” Kidrick said.

    Kidrick says more pilots would self-report emotional struggles if they didn't fear losing their license.

    “It’s important to have an open environment conducive to a willingness to talk about those challenges,” Kidrick said.

    Bradley Newcomb is a commercial pilot in training. When asked what more could be done by the FAA, he suggested a hotline for anonymous complaints or more thorough annual check- ups.

    “Asking questions, reaching out to family members even just asking for three references,” Newcomb said.

    The FAA says its panel includes pilots and medical experts. It will examine how a pilot’s emotional and mental health is evaluated in addition to looking at barriers to self-reporting.

    The intention is to create safer flights and raise confidence among the public when traveling on planes.

    The Airline Pilots Association will be represented on that FAA Panel. In a statement, the group said:

    "We look forward to working alongside other key stakeholders in evaluating the extensive procedures and processes currently in place that provide a thorough monitoring of crewmembers in the United States."

    The panel meetings are not open to the public. The FAA set of goal of six months to come up with the new rules.