The Germanwings tragedy left a lot of people in shock. While we know accidents happen, we naturally assume that pilots are going to be the ones trying to save the plane, and not the ones trying to crash it.
My personal (completely uneducated) opinion is:
- If someone wants to pull something off, they’ll find a way to do it. In other words, while always requiring two people in the cockpit isn’t a bad idea, I’m not convinced that would actually prevent something similar from happening in the future.
- There’s only so much that can be outwardly detected. Perhaps I’m being naive here, but I have a hard time imagining there are any sort of tests which could be performed on the hundreds of thousands of “active” pilots to truly tell whether they’re mentally “fit” to fly.
- All this doesn’t mean we can’t put extra checks in place. My point is that nothing will with 100% certainty prevent something similar in the future, but at the same time that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to try.
All this brings us to the rather shocking news reported by Air Transport World today. During Air India’s most recent intake of new pilots, over a quarter were rejected over concerns raised by the psychologists:
Indian flag carrier Air India has rejected some 25% of its most recent intake of new pilots following psychological reports on their mental stability.
The airline advertised some 197 vacancies for pilots, but only 160 were called in for interviews. However, for the first time, the final selection interview included personal analysis by psychology experts from the Indian Air Force.
As a result, only 78 of the potential employees were approved for employment. The remaining 42 were “rejected on concerns raised by [the] psychologists,” an Air India spokesperson said.
Air India is the first airline to have publicly acknowledged the need for stricter psychological profiling on potential aircrew. “If 25% of [potential pilots] have been red flagged by psychologists, it is a serious concern and should be looked into seriously,” Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) spokesperson Mohan Ranganathan said.
Wow! It’s a bit ironic that the airline rejecting people on psychological grounds is the same one which won’t terminate a pilot who repeatedly shows up to work drunk.
But if 25% of new hires were rejected on psychological grounds, you can’t help but wonder what would happen if existing pilots underwent the same screening.
What do you make of this revelation from Air India?