DoT’s response to Sen. Feinstein’s letter about Pilots’ Mental Health fails to mention FAA Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee

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The Senior Senator from California wrote on April 30, 2015 to the US Department of Transportation Inspector General asking him the following questions:

  1. Do current FAA regulations, policies, and guidance mitigate the risk of intentional crash by a pilot, including opportunities to do so when a pilot or co-pilot exit{sic} the cockpit during flight?
  1. Are commercial aviation industry cockpit security and pilot hiring standards sufficient to ensure aviation safety/security and are they properly implemented? Are there best practices that can be identified?
  1. Does FAA conduct sufficient oversight of commercial airlines to ensure regulations, policies, and standards for cockpit security are effective?
  1. What steps does FAA take to evaluate the psychological health of pilots as a potential threat to aviation safety? To what extent do current FAA medical requirements and screening for pilots mitigate this threat? Is there evidence that pilots conceal pertinent medical information from FAA-designated Aviation Medical Examiners, and if so, what steps could be taken to prevent this or to incentivize the disclosure of such information?

These are important questions to be asked.s66

NBC reports that a letter[1] responded to the Senator‘s request by saying that the DoT:

  • “will review airline security in the wake of the Germanwings plane crash that killed 150 people…”
  • Examine…”whether security and hiring standards are stringent enough to prevent a similar tragedy…”
  • “will also examine ‘what steps FAA takes to evaluate the psychological health of pilots.’”

[1] The DoT IG issued on its website a memorandum addressing Feinstein’s security questions.

Elsewhere in the NBC website, there are quotes which suggest that the FAA will be answering these questions.

A more precise answer by the DoT to the Senator might have mentioned that the FAA on May 11, 2015 had issued a relevant document which initiated a thorough process to examine these issues. The Administrator issued the Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee Charter.  That document commissioned a panel of experts to review these technical issues:

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The Federal Air Surgeon issued an editorial informing the public about this expert panel.  The word has been distributed about this high level initiative to establish a comprehensive policy about pilots’ mental health, awareness of these problems, reporting of these issues, current evaluation techniques, barriers, new evaluation techniques.

Maybe the Senator would like to know about the existence of this ARC? Maybe the DoT should have been aware of this effort?

 

ARTICLE: Transportation Dept. to Review Airline Safety After Germanwings Crash

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2 Comments on "DoT’s response to Sen. Feinstein’s letter about Pilots’ Mental Health fails to mention FAA Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee"

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