Not sure how I feel about this, yet.

According to an article written by Skift, the FAA has nixed the idea of requiring psych testing for pilots, instead opting to implement a self-reporting honor system. Under this program, pilots will have the opportunity to self-report mental issues and get the treatment needed. FAA trains medical examiners to issue flight medical certificates and while these examiners have the ability to decline a certificate, they are currently not required to report any issues to the FAA.

The reason for forgoing the psych evaluation option is explained by FAA administrator Michael Huerta:

Psychological tests are ineffective because they reveal a pilot’s mental health for only a moment in time without providing insight into whether the pilot will suffer problems later. We need to do more to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness in the aviation industry so pilots are more likely to self-report, get treated and return to work.

Unfortunately, we all saw what could happen under this type of program with the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and thrusted the Airbus A320 full of passengers towards the French Alps, killing all on board.


Bottom Line

Becoming an airline pilot takes years of hard work, countless hours in the sky, and often a total cost of $100,000+ for flight training. My biggest concern is that these pilots, who have worked so hard to get to their position, will be extremely reluctant to self-report any condition that could potentially have them booted from the cockpit (often times their only source of income).

I understand the need and desire to eliminate the “stigma” of mental illness, but quite honestly, do so when you do not have the lives of millions of passengers at risk.

How do you feel about the FAA ruling to forgo psychological evaluations on U.S. pilots?