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Don’t drop the pilots just because they have mental health issues

World

Don’t drop the pilots just because they have mental health issues

Intentional crashes highlight the need for better mental-health protections for pilots in a high-stress job

David Fickling and Tim Culpan

How would you feel about getting on a flight knowing that the pilot had been having suicidal thoughts? If you’re a regular passenger, you’ve probably already done it.

Few things in aviation evoke greater horror than the prospect of a pilot who deliberately drives a plane into the ground. That’s what happened, notoriously, with Germanwings Flight 9525 in 2015, when 150 were killed after the first officer locked the captain out of the cockpit and steered the plane into an Alpine mountain. 

It’s such an alarming prospect that some suspected pilot suicides remain hotly disputed, as with the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 soon after departure from New York in 1999. Intentional crashing is among the theories posited for the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in 2014, though no conclusion has been made. Now that possibility hangs over the fate of China Eastern Airlines Flight 5735, which may have had its controls pushed into a deliberate nosedive ahead of its crash on March 21, the Wall Street Journal reported last week...

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