The U.S. DOT Inspector General’s (DOT IG) office is currently conducting an audit to assess the FAA’s procedures for evaluating the psychological health of airline and other commercial pilots, as well as mitigating potential threats to aviation safety from pilots with mental health issues.
Since 1994 there have been at least six suspected or confirmed passenger airplane crashes internationally caused by intentional action by a pilot, resulting in a total of 398 fatalities, according to the DOT. “These incidents emphasize the importance of monitoring the psychological health of pilots.”
FAA first-class medical certification rules (FAR 67.107) include a list of mental standards. Nevertheless, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) requested that the DOT IG undertake this audit, expressing concerns that FAA commercial pilot mental certification rules might be insufficient.
Europe has already taken action on this issue. Beginning next month, EASA will require national aviation authorities to incorporate provisions to “better identify, assess, and treat the psychological fitness” of commercial flight crewmembers.