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European (Aviation) Psychologists react to crash Germanwings flight 4U 9525

30 Mar 2015

Psychological assessment before entry to flight training and before admission to active service by an airline can help to select pilots. However, it cannot forecast the life events and mental health problems occurring in the life of each individual pilot and the unique way he or she will cope with these.

Recurrent mental health evaluation essential complement to psychological selection of pilots 

In a response to the crash of the Germanwings flight 9525, the European Federation of Psychologists Associations' (EFPA) and the European Association for Aviation Psychology (EAAP) express their condolences to the relatives of the victims, and their support for air passengers and colleagues of the crew.

The information suggesting that the co-pilot has deliberately crashed the plane is shocking to all. Yet, it is important to await a full investigation into the actual circumstances of the crash and the precise course of events.    

EFPA and EAAP underline that psychological assessment and human factors training are among the elements that make aviation the safest form of transport around the world. Together with technical and operational measures they ensure that catastrophic events, like the crash of flight 4U 9525, are highly exceptional. Also, the selection of pilots in Germany, as conducted by DLR, meets the highest professional standards.

Psychological assessment before entry to flight training and before admission to active service by an airline can help to select pilots who are mentally and emotionally prepared for the work and who can handle stressors effectively.

However, it cannot forecast the life events and mental health problems occurring in the life of each individual pilot and the unique way he or she will cope with these.

EFPA and EAAP emphasize the importance of recurrent evaluation of pilots’ mental health both in the context of the periodic medical examination (JAR-FCL-3) and of well-accepted airline policies and procedures to ensure fitness to fly. They point out that psychologists are at all times ready to provide specialist expertise. 

In the aftermath of the disaster priority should be given to psychological help for relatives and friends of victims. Psychologists are already involved in providing assistance as members of national and airline crisis intervention teams. It is equally important to support flight crews in overcoming the impact of this tragic event. 

For more information:

EAAP: Email: president(at)eaap.net

EFPA: Email: headoffice(at)efpa.eu

 

 

 

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