German wings opens aviation's eyes, DGCA panel looking into norms for checking pilots' health
"There is a committee which is looking into it (the norms for assessing pilots health)," Director General of Civil Aviation M Sathiyavathy told reporters. She, however, refused to elaborate more on the issue. "I cannot comment further," Sathiyavathy said.
The move by Directorate General of Civil Aviation comes in the wake of the recent Germanwings airline plane crash in the Alps in which it is alleged that a mentally disturbed co-pilot crashed the plane killing all 150 people onboard. The 27-year-old co-pilot Andreas Lubitz of Germanwings was reportedly battling against severe mental health issues and even had treatment for suicidal tendencies before obtaining his pilot's licence.
As of now, nine domestic airlines, which employ over 3,000 pilots, carry out such tests on their pilots at the point of induction but there are no subsequent appraisals of their mental state. They, however, undergo physical fitness tests every six months.
Sathiyavathy also said that the DGCA is also re-certifying all flying schools and non-scheduled operators, following the restoration of India's aviation safety rating back to the top category by the US aviation watchdog Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) early this month.
The FAA had downgraded India from Category I to Category II last January.
"For re-certification, we took up Air India and Jet Airways on a priority basis as they fly to the United States. Then we took up Vistara, Air Pegasus and Air Costa (the two regional carriers operating out of the southern region). Other scheduled airlines are being taken up now," she said.
The re-certifcation implies that the aviation regulator is satisfied that the airlines meet all the prescribed safety and security norms. She was speaking on the sidelines of a function jointly organised by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce here The function was organised to announce the dates for the 5th edition of the India Aviation international conference- exhibition in Hyderabad from March 16 next year.