The Germanwings disaster and the conversation on mental health in aviation

With the crash into the French Alps last week of an ill-fated Germanwings flight, it has emerged that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had previously been treated for a mental illness.

The Airbus A320, carrying 150 people, went down in the southern-French Alps last Tuesday after Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit.

While experts say the South African aviation industry is ahead in steps to regulate routine psychological checks on pilots, there are no formal plans. Speaking on 702's John Robbie Show, former SAA pilot, Karl Jensen outlined some of the pressures that pilots more than likely contend with:

This disaster here is a freak disaster - there is obviously a problem. Everybody is under more stress, young people are under more stress now than maybe I was when I was 25 years old. There are ways of getting around this - if the management would take cognisance of the other crew members' view of the person's behavioural patterns. The airlines are doing as much as they can.

Also on 702's John Robbie Show, the editor of SA Flyer Magazine, Guy Leitch notes:

Modern airliners haven't had flight engineers for over 20 years now, so they're very much stuck to a two-crew cockpit. In fact, there's been a strong move afoot towards heading to a single pilot cockpit. I think obviously this Germanwings crash will stop that move immediately and there are other aspects of the accident that need to be dealt with. South African Airways and many other airlines - Karl Jensen didn't mention this - have excellent support programs for when they get depressed for any reason. And a pilot, when they sign in, can choose to tick a box that declares he's fit to fly and go home, so they do have quite good systems and checks to prevent pilots who may be too depressed to fly. (On Germanwings pilot, Andreas Lubitz) I think the reason this particular Germanwings pilot got through the system is that system bent over along the way to accommodate him - he had a history of depression - and yet they kept on accommodating him.

File picture of the Germanwings crash into the French Alps: AFP

Speaking to Cape Talk's Kieno Kammies, Chief Executive Officer of SA Airlink, Rodger Foster says this incident also calls for industry-wide interventions:

It's early days, but this is the second similar event that happened; we had a similar event in November 2013 where the captain of a local regional airline left the cockpit and the co-pilot elected to do the same and bring the plane down and all souls on board were lost. This second similar event brings us to the recognition that this could happen any time and anywhere. All airlines do psychometric assessments and screenings - that's all standard procedure, but it's now also cause to go further than that, even in terms of the regulations; what will the regulations look like in future? I don't think any one of us have the answers but what we're all going to have to get together firstly as individual organisations and secondly as a collective industry to see what has to be done to prevent it from happening.


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI

702 welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the 702 community a safe and welcoming space for all.

702 reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

702 is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
[LISTEN] ANC Gauteng ready for elective conference despite looming court action

[LISTEN] ANC Gauteng ready for elective conference despite looming court action

Regional spokesperson Motalatale Modiba says their lawyers are on standby.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin – a bromance that'll define your kids' future

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin – a bromance that'll define your kids' future

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Wits University Professor of International Relations John Stremlau.

Meet Arthur Benjamin, the world-renowned genius known as 'The Human Calculator'

Meet Arthur Benjamin, the world-renowned genius known as 'The Human Calculator'

One of the world's fastest human calculators, Benjamin is Cape Town to show off his remarkable abilities.

Pratley CEO tempts fate, recreates suspended bulldozer stunt on Friday the 13th

Pratley CEO tempts fate, recreates suspended bulldozer stunt on Friday the 13th

"I will still gladly bet my life on the quality of our product," says Pratley Group CEO Kim Pratley.

[LISTEN]  Obama's Mandela memorial speech will set the bar high  - John Stremlau

[LISTEN] Obama's Mandela memorial speech will set the bar high - John Stremlau

According to his close adviser and former speechwriter,Obama views this as the most important speech he has given post presidency.

Beira (Mozambique)… where beer is cheaper than tea (despite ever-present China)

Beira (Mozambique)… where beer is cheaper than tea (despite ever-present China)

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews distinguished Africa correspondent Lee Kasumba, who is in Mozambique’s central city.

Popular articles
Are you ready to 'Walk the Talk' with 702 & MTN?

Are you ready to 'Walk the Talk' with 702 & MTN?

The annual MTN Walk the Talk with 702 takes place on 22 July this year, under the theme 'Walking for South Africa'.

Madiba’s private secretary Zelda la Grange opens up about money (hers and his)

Madiba’s private secretary Zelda la Grange opens up about money (hers and his)

Bruce Whitfield interviews La Grange about her and Madiba's attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.)

You’re either a ‘money slave’ or a ‘money master’ (says author of 'My Money')

You’re either a ‘money slave’ or a ‘money master’ (says author of 'My Money')

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Sugar Creek financial expert and author of “My Money” Gerald Mwandiambira.

How to make money through ‘buy-to-let’ (using very little of your own money)

How to make money through ‘buy-to-let’ (using very little of your own money)

Bruce Whitfield interviews Francois Janse van Rensburg, author of “Making Money through Buy-To-Let in South Africa".

'More black farm workers are killed than white farm workers'  - Johan Burger

'More black farm workers are killed than white farm workers'  - Johan Burger

Following a spate of farm murders in the Cape, the policing expert says there aren't enough stats available on farm killings.

Soulful Sundays Playlist: Sunday 11 June 2017

Soulful Sundays Playlist: Sunday 11 June 2017

Favourites to feed your soul on Sunday.

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

WIN R2000! But only if you can prove you're a whiz of the MTN Biz Quiz by answering the following three questions...

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Is social trend Blesserfinder, where girls are allegedly matching up with rich 'benefactors' in exchange for sex, a real thing?