EASA welcomes new rules on mental fitness

Europe’s aviation safety regulator has welcomed new safety rules on air operations, including new provisions to better support the mental fitness of air crew.
The rules published by the European Union include the following safety measures:
·         Support programme: all pilots working for European airlines will have access to a support programme that will assist and support pilots in recognising, coping with, and overcoming problems which might negatively affect their ability to safely exercise the privileges of their licence.
·         Alcohol testing: As an additional safety barrier, alcohol testing of pilots and cabin crew for all European and foreign airlines who fly into the territories of the European Union, has been added. Alcohol testing is already a well-established practice in some member states and with this Regulation alcohol testing will now be extended to all EU member states within the next two years.
·         Psychological assessment: European airlines will perform a psychological assessment of their pilots before the start of employment.
Commenting on the publication of the Regulation, the executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Patrick Ky said: “These new European rules take up the proposals EASA made in its swift follow-up of the Germanwings Flight 9525 accident, in consultation with the wider aviation community. With these rules Europe introduces the right tools to safeguard the mental fitness of air crew.
“During the two-year transition period, EASA will actively support European and international stakeholders in implementing this new Regulation’’.
As part of a total system approach, the new rules (the so-called Air OPS Implementing Rules) complement the proposals EASA issued in August 2016, on the update of medical requirements for pilots (Part-MED).
The new rules on mental fitness of air crew includes a two year transition period to allow airlines and member states to prepare and set up the necessary infrastructure. EASA said it will issue Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material – AMC/GM in the form of a Decision- to support the implementation of the new rules and will work with member states and industry to assist the implementation of the new rules.