New EASA Rules on Mental Fitness in Wake of Germanwings Flight 9525 Accident

The European Union published new safety rules on air operations, including new provisions to support the mental fitness of air crew.

Talking about the new regulations, EASA’s Executive Director, Patrick Ky, said: “These new European rules take up the proposals EASA made in its swift follow-up of the Germanwings Flight 9525 accident, in consultation with the wider aviation community.

“With these rules Europe introduces the right tools to safeguard the mental fitness of air crew. During the two year transition period, EASA will actively support European and international stakeholders in implementing this new Regulation.”

Key points of the new regulation include:

• Support programme:

All pilots working for European airlines will have access to a support programme that will assist and support pilots in recognising, coping with, and    overcoming problems which might negatively affect their ability to safely exercise the privileges of their licence.

• Alcohol testing:

Alcohol testing of pilots and cabin crew for all European and foreign airlines who fly into the territories of the European Union, has been added. Alcohol testing is already a well-established practice in some Member States and with this Regulation alcohol testing will now be extended to all EU Member States within the next two years.

• Psychological assessment:

European airlines will perform a psychological assessment of pilots before the start of employment.

The new rules (Air OPS Implementing Rules) complement the proposals EASA issued in August 2016, on the update of medical requirements for pilots (Part-MED).
The Regulation on mental fitness of air crew includes a two year transition period to allow airlines and Member States to prepare for the Regulation and to set up the necessary infrastructure to comply with the Regulation.

EASA says that it will issue Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material – AMC/GM in the form of a Decision- to support the implementation of the new rules and will work with Member States and industry to assist the implementation of the Regulation.

Author: Rob Hall

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