HOUSTON, TX – Aren’t pilots in the cockpit the ones we are supposed to trust? Sadly, as was the case of the recent doomed Germanwings flight, that isn`t always the case.
How can airlines know for sure that the pilots in command of the plane are fit to do their jobs?
Dr. Glenn Orsak, a Senior Aviation Medical Examiner, explained, “People do break. How do you predict those breaks? It`s almost impossible; you never know when a person is going to break.”
In the case of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, a doctor`s letter found in his apartment, declared him unfit to work, according to a German prosecutor.
“That`s not something that a normal person typically gets to that point./ it`s a serious depression. It`s very different from stress and pressure and the normal kind of things we deal with from day-to-day,” said Rachel Eddins, a therapist who also counsels pilots.
The FAA requires annual physicals for pilots and bi annual physicals for pilots over 40, but has no requirements for psychological evaluations.
“You may ask about their love life, their family life, their job status, financial status, how things are going. A lot of things play into this, and usually doctors can get a good feel whether or not a pilot or an airman is going to be at risk for some sort of anxiety depression, psychotic break,” said Dr. Orsak.
But in the case of Lubitz, his lack of fitness to work didn`t stop him from getting behind the flight controls.
“The co-pilot brought some thoughts with him from outside of the business and decided to commit suicide by airplane. The problem is he took too many people with him,” according to Kim Page, a helicopter pilot with Helicopters Inc.
Dr. Orsak added, “We need to find out what caused these things and help to identify them, and help prevent things further but no system is perfect, nobody is perfect.”
‘This is a very rare situation, it`s an extreme situation, so the chances of this happening, there is no cause for alarm, this is a very rare situation,” Eddins emphasized.
No matter how rare, it doesn’t answer why Lubitz sent 150 people to their death.