Germanwings: Deliberate flight into terrain

Accident to the Airbus A320-211, registered D-AIPX and operated by Germanwings: Deliberate flight into terrain. The final investigation was released in the morning on March 13, 2016, in a press conference.

germanwings-a320

Photo from: http://i1.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article5390035.ece/ALTERNATES/s298/germanwings-a320-crash-main.jpg

I watched the BEA press conference held at 5:00 AM Colombia local time, live on the Daily Mirror website (The only one I found).The complete video is no longer available but there are many things to highlight from the website  live updates as investigators were revealing the facts and recommendations included in the  Germanwings A320 accident investigation final report:

– Remi Jouty, Director of BEA, the French air accident investigation agency, tells the press conference Andreas Lubitz was taking anti-depressants at the time of the tragedy.

Lubitz renewed his aptitude certificate for the last time in November 2014 after which he was signed off on sick leave for a short period.

According to the regulations, Lubitz should have self-declared he was taking anti-depressants and re-taken his aptitude tests when he returned to work. He did not do this.

– Investigators have recommended more medical checks for pilots to prevent mentally ill pilots taking charge of a plane.

-Having reviewed the records of several private physicians Lubitz visited in the months before the crash, medical experts concluded he was suffering from a ‘psychotic depressive episode’.
These diagnoses were not disclosed to Germanwings by doctors or Lubitz himself.

-This diagnoses would have prohibited him from flying if known by Germanwings or aviation authorities.

-The first recommendation of the report is revealed as investigators recommend a change in the law to protect doctors who pass on medical information to protect the public.(Bolds and cursives are mine)

Mr. Jouty says it is important to “strike a balance between patient confidentiality and public safety”.

He adds when doctors believe there is a “likely risk to public safety” that “healthcare providers should be protected to avoid being taken to court when such information is passed on.

“We think this is a global issue”.

The recommendation will be passed on to the World Health Organisation and to the German Transport Ministry and German Doctors Council.

-The report recommends “re-enforcing” psychological evaluations by requiring pilots who have a past history of mental health problems to undergo assessments once a year.

It recommends following the lead of the French rail and nuclear industry by ensuring professionals who are signed off work for treatment continue to receive their full salary to prevent pilots “hiding” their conditions. (Bolds and cursives are mines)

– Lead investigator Arnaud Desjardin says the report feature a total of 11 recommendations.

However, he tells the press conference the Germanwings plane crash was in part down to “failings from the pilot” and no recommendations can guarantee such an event could never happen again.

He said: “We are aware the recommendations can improve safety but we cannot suggest this is going to be a 100 percent effective barrier”.

– The report will suggest new rules for more than one person being present in the cockpit at all times – but the safety mechanisms on doors will not be changed.

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  • “..ensuring professionals who are signed off work for treatment continue to receive their full salary to prevent pilots “hiding” their conditions….” This is a key issue, and as many of you know and have read many times on my emails, this is one of the most important issues to me. I know of one airline in Colombia (South America) that is already doing this, since long time ago. (They haven’t come to bankruptcy for this reason so it can be done, all we need is the will to do it)
  • All of these arises, again, the high importance of airline medical service for flight crews, staffed and managed by experts in aerospace medicine, in which the necessary support and counseling are given to the patient and his/her family, to which the patient can go freely without worrying about the decline in their income or the fear of reprisals from the airline while incapacitated and in the exceptional case where he/she can’t regain his/her aptitude to fly, receive the appropriate support, and emotional, professional and financial counseling. Again, as many of you know and have read many times on my emails, I consider this one of the most important issues. And again, the Colombian airline I referred before is holding such a medical service.
  • “The first recommendation of the report is revealed as investigators recommend a change in the law to protect doctors who pass on medical information to protect the public.” This is a key issue too. In the small number of cases I know, of physician violating the professional secret to protect aviation safety, the judges always have decided in favour of the doctor. But the fear of prosecution and of the possibility of losing their licenses holds the majority of doctors from doing such a thing. So, there is a lot to be doing in this aspect yet.

To download the complete final report (French, German, English and Spanish) go to the BEA site Accident to the Airbus A320-211, registered D-AIPX and operated by Germanwings, flight GWI18G, on 03/24/15 at Prads-Haute-Bléone.

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minime2By Laura Victoria Duque Arrubla, a medical doctor with postgraduate studies in Aviation Medicine, Human Factors and Aviation Safety. In the aviation field since 1988, Human Factors instructor since 1994. Follow me on facebook Living Safely with Human Error and twitter@dralaurita. Human Factors information almost every day 

 

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