The FAA is working with the commercial aviation and medical communities to study the emotional and mental health of U.S. commercial pilots.
The joint FAA and industry group known as the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) recommended the study based on the recent Malaysia Flight 370 and Germanwings Flight 9525 accidents.
The Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) will provide the FAA with recommendations within six months. The group will include U.S. and international government and industry aviation experts, including a working group of medical professionals who specialize in aerospace medicine.
While U.S. pilots undergo robust medical screening, recent accidents in other parts of the world prompted the FAA to take a new look at pilot fitness, FAA officials noted.
The ARC will examine issues including the awareness and reporting of emotional and mental health issues, the methods used to evaluate pilot emotional and mental health, and barriers to reporting such issues, FAA officials explained.
Based on the group’s recommendations, the FAA may consider changes to medical methods, aircraft design, policies and procedures, pilot training and testing, training for Aerospace Medical Examiners, or potential actions that may be taken by professional, airline, or union groups. The ARC’s meetings will not be open to the public.
Federal Aviation Regulations outline the medical requirements for pilots. U.S airline pilots undergo a medical exam with an FAA-approved physician every six or 12 months depending on the pilot’s age.