Doc Referred Germanwings Co-Pilot to Psych Clinic, Told No One

French authorities urge better mental health reporting in wake of Andreas Lubitz
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 13, 2016 7:46 AM CDT
Doc Referred Germanwings Co-Pilot to Psych Clinic, Told No One
FILE - In this June 10, 2015 file picture, a convoy of hearses drives on the highway in Duisburg, Germany. taking home victims who died in the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps in March 2015. France's air accident investigation agency releases report into the March 2015 crash of the Germanwings...   (Martin Meissner)

Aviation agencies should draw up new rules requiring medical workers to warn authorities when a pilot's mental health could threaten public safety, French investigators recommended Sunday in their report on the Germanwings plane crash. The investigation found that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had consulted dozens of doctors in the weeks before he deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, killing all 150 on board. But doctors didn't alert authorities about Lubitz's mental health, France's BEA agency said, even though one referred Lubitz to a psychiatric clinic just two weeks before. "Experts found that the symptoms could be compatible with a psychotic episode," said Arnaud Desjardin, leader of the BEA investigation. This information "was not delivered to Germanwings."

Because Lubitz didn't inform anyone, the BEA said, "no action could have been taken by the authorities or his employer to prevent him from flying." But relatives of those killed have pointed to a string of people they say could have stopped Lubitz. "How is it possible Germanwings would let a crazy guy fly a plane? He was mentally unbalanced, tremendously unbalanced," the father of one victim told the AP. Among the BEA's findings and recommendations:

  • The certification process failed to identify the Lubitz's risks, specifically a "lack of clear guidelines in German regulations on when a threat to public safety outweighs" patient privacy.
  • Peer support groups and other measures are needed to remove the stigma and pilots' fear of losing a job. "The reluctance of pilots to declare their problems and seek medical assistance ... needs to be addressed," the BEA said.
  • Deep psychological tests every year for all pilots would be "neither effective nor beneficial," Desjardin said. Instead, the BEA recommended tougher monitoring of pilots with past mental health issues.
  • Cockpit security shouldn't be changed because it's still critical to protect against 9/11-style attackers. "A lockage system cannot be created to prevent threats coming from (both) outside and inside the cockpit," Desjardin said.
(More Germanwings crash stories.)

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