Running Under Pressure: Lufthansa Announces “Random Medical Checks”

The unexpected can happen? Sure it can. Now Lufthansa is considering random medical checks for pilots, to help prevent any future disaster like the Germanwings crash that killed 150 people.

In a recent interview with a german newspaper, Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr announced medical checks for pilots could be introduced, which in terms of the surprise factor would be similar to doping tests for sports men and women.

It is suspected that Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashed a plane in the Alps in March. Until today its unclear why he did so.
Andreas Lubitz, 27, is thought to have suffered some sort of mental breakdown. Prosecutors in Duesseldorf found evidence of “an existing illness and appropriate medical treatment”. They found torn-up sick notes at his home.

Germanwings is a budget airline managed by Lufthansa.

He said that in certain cases a doctor might have to be released from the duty of confidentiality, to reveal concerns about a pilot. Random checks might for example detect a drug that the pilot had concealed from his or her employer.

Since the disaster Lufthansa and other airlines have ruled that there must always be at least two people in the cockpit.

It is interesting to know what selection criteria would be applied for these “ramdon medical checks”.

Air accident investigators have staged a test flight to reconstruct conditions on board the Germanwings Airbus A320 which disintegrated on a mountainside in the French Alps after being put into a controlled dive.

The German tabloid Bild says experts flew an identical plane, which took off from Hamburg and returned there after flying in German airspace. It took place on 12 May, a spokesman for Germany’s crash investigation authority BFU said.

French investigators say they hope the reconstruction will help them analyse sounds recorded in the cockpit of Flight 4U 9525. The flight copied the various altitudes, speeds, the cockpit door locking mechanism and pilots’ breathing noises.

Capt. Ivan

How about a lifestyle change?

Many voices have risen during the last days when the FAA announced the increased scrutiny among overweight pilots during their periodically medical exam.

If you have a body mass index over 40, you may be subject to a sleeping apnea test before continuing flying commercially.

No doubts this is going to be a great challenge for commercial aviation pilots in the US, reality shows that bad eating habits along with a sedentary lifestyle can be a major risk for coronary heart disease, which on an airline pilot is a serious safety issue.

On a recent case, United Airlines Flight 1603, Captain Henry Skillern, 63, suffered a heart attack meanwhile he was at the controls of his Boeing 737, unfortunately Captain Skillern later died at the hospital.

Physical fitness is an important part of mental acuity and overall safety during operations. We have seen Captains and First Officers that wouldn’t stand a chance getting out the cockpit windows in the event of an emergency.

Some of you may not agree to the changes, but instead, why not put that hamburger away and start a healthy lifestyle?

Capt. Ivan

  •   GDL 39