Co-Pilot’s mental health should have raised flag.
After watching the coverage yesterday on the new information being revealed about the co-pilot and Lufthansa, I was once again disappointed that the so-called experts expressed baseless opinions about the supposed video that was shot on-board flight 9525 – it was outrageous that they made an all-day spectacle out of this “factoid” that had not been vetted with the government official who are in control of this type of information. When the investigating official did address the validity, they said that is was not fact. In addition, we also learned more about how much information and knowledge Lufthansa had regarding the co-pilot’s health issues. It would seem that Andreas may have done what was expected and that was to disclose his mental health issues to his employer. It was however, not Andreas who necessarily skirted the system but rather it was the airline who failed to take proper notice and concern, and provide sufficient oversight and make a proper determination about his fitness to fly. Maybe we need to consider having the airline include a mental health check-up of the pilot each time they come back for recurrent training by meeting with a mental health professional for a short discussion and evaluation. It will be interesting to know if Lufthansa employed any additional screenings or evaluation of the co-pilot when he took six weeks off from his flight training because of an issue with depression.
In addition to a pilot’s mental health, how about a passenger’s mental health? Statistics on passenger behavior problems and incidents have increased dramatically in the recent past. It is evident by the stories in the media of passengers, supposedly “good people” doing bad things on airplane, trying to open a passenger entry door in-flight, being abusive to fellow passengers, being abusive to flight attendants, Peeing/defecating in the isles, etc. Really!!!! I believe that we need to bring more civility and personal interaction back to the passenger cabin – which includes pilots talking to passengers and passengers respecting the airline professionals. I have over 3 million miles on various airlines and it drives me nuts to see how people act on an airplane. Some passengers are just plain rude, believe they are entitled (especially those who think they have status because they are a Premium passenger), dress like slobs and/or are belligerent. While the security of the cockpit will not change because we still have bad guys sitting in the back with the intent to do harm, I believe that the airlines need to work harder to establish a more flyer-friendly attitude regardless of their problems (we all have problems of our own), and that passengers need to treat airline folks with respect if they themselves expect to be treated with respect. While I can’t determine quantitatively if this will improve aviation safety, it will definitely go along way with improving the flight experience we all must endure.