‘GPs should dob in troubled pilots’

Written By Unknown on Senin, 30 Maret 2015 | 20.01

Doomed ... The Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in France on March 24, 2015. Pic: AFP PHOTO / GIORGIO PAROLINI Source: Supplied

AN international aviation lawyer has called for the adoption of mandatory reporting for doctors who treat pilots they consider to be unfit to fly, in the wake of the Germanwings' crash.

Jerry Skinner who is acting for several families bereaved by the MH17 tragedy, said there should be some onus on general practitioners to alert a pilot's employer if they are mentally unwell.

In Australia, pilots are legally required to report any significant medical conditions that could impair their ability to fly to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

They must also undergo annual checks by an aviation medical examiner who then issues a certificate stating their fitness to fly.

Aviation laws ... Jerry Skinner wants mandatory reporting for doctors who treat troubled pilots. Pic: Adam Smith/News Corp Australia Source: News Corp Australia

But a pilot seeking treatment from a GP or psychologist could conceivably conceal that from their employer, and the doctor is not required to report any concerns.

The issue has arisen as a result of the horrific Germanwings' crash last Tuesday, in which co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was found to have deliberately locked his captain out of the cockpit then steered a packed A320 into a mountain.

All 150 people on board were killed, including 16 German high school students and two Australians.

Torn up notes stating Lubitz was unfit for duty on several days, including the day of flight 4U-9525, were found in his Dusseldorf flat.

Evidence ... Investigators carry boxes from the apartment of Andreas Lubitz, in Dusseldorf. Pic: AP Photo/Martin Meissner Source: AP

Mr Skinner said there should be penalties for doctors who did not report someone they knew to be a pilot was in such poor mental health that they could present a danger.

"(In Lubitz's case) there had apparently been no communication between the physician and the airline about whether the doctor thought this person was dangerous," said Mr Skinner.

"It would certainly be a good idea if there was some sort of mandatory reporting requirement, if you thought a pilot could be dangerous to their passengers — especially now with aircraft that carry almost 500 people."

In South Australia and the Northern Territory, doctors are obliged to report to transport authorities people who they consider to be unfit to drive.

Tragedy ... The remains of Germanwings' Flight 4U-9525 in the French Alps. Pic: AFP/Anne-Christine Poujoulat Source: AFP

But there is no such mandatory reporting requirement anywhere in Australia in relation to pilots.

Australian and International Pilots Association president Nathan Safe has called for a discussion with airlines about managing mental health issues.

He said the ideal solution was to make pilots feel comfortable enough to come forward of their own accord.

"We need to have mature industrial agreements to make people feel safe and comfortable and not punished for seeking medical help," said Mr Safe.

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