BERLIN Dec 9 The European Commission will
propose legislation next year requiring airlines to run mental
health checks on pilots before they start commercial flying, as
part of efforts to prevent a recurrence of last year's
Authorities have been looking at ways to toughen pilot
screening and better assess their mental health after a young
pilot locked himself in the cockpit and crashed a Germanwings
plane into the Alps in March 2015, killing all 150 aboard.
Under the new proposals, put forward by the European
Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Friday, operators will have to
ensure pilots have access to support programmes. Airline crews
will also be subject to more drug and alcohol testing, including
on being hired, after serious incidents and if there is
suspicion of substance abuse.
Germany, where Lufthansa unit Germanwings is based, has
already altered its aviation laws to incorporate such tests.
The European Cockpit Association, representing over 38,000
pilots across 37 European countries, said it welcomed the
proposals on support programmes and psychological assessments
but was sceptical as to whether the proposals for random alcohol
and drug checks would work.
"The experience from the U.S. shows such random screening to
be very costly, but to be 10 times less effective in identifying
problem cases than peer support programmes," ECA President Dirk
Polloczek said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
The new measures sit alongside other proposals from August
on tougher screening for new pilots.
The Commission will table legislation based on its proposals
in 2017, EASA said.
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; editing by John Stonestreet)