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cedarjet
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What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:02 pm

575 killed in 6 (7 if you include FedEx; or 814 if you include MH370). Pilot suicide must surely now be considered a major cause of air disasters, in recent years perhaps the leading cause (especially if MH370 is included).

What to do? There are good reasons to lock the cockpit door (although I think the so-called terror threat is exaggerated by the authorities), but that alone was the enabling factor with LAM and Lufthansa (Germanwings). I don't think a three man crew would help, if one guy goes to the toilet then it's easy for one guy to hit the other with the fire extinguisher. I am positive that psychiatric screening wouldn't catch these guys, one in a million and probably in some cases perfectly sane on the outside. The Lufty FO who has downed the Germanwings flight was cited by the FAA for outstanding airmanship (link at the bottom).

Is this just an intractable problem of the human condition we have to live with and be vigilant for? I cannot think of a single concrete step that could help.

Japan Air Lines 24 killed, 9 Feb 1982
Royal Air Moroc 44 killed, 21 Aug 1994
Egyptair 217 killed, 31 Oct 1997
Silkair 107 killed, 19 Dec 1997
LAM Mozambique 33 killed, 29 Nov 2013
Lufthansa (Germanwings) 150 killed, 24 Mar 2015

Fedex attempted pilot suicide, 7 Apr 1994
Malaysia suspected pilot suicide 239 killed, 8 Mar 2014

http://aviation-business-gazette.com...enter-Lubitz-Rheinland-Pfalz-.html
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holzmann
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:10 pm

Driverless cars. Pilotless planes. It's coming. Along with the replacement of many jobs across the globe with AI.

In short term, rules will change to insure two people remain in the cockpit at all times. More mandatory psych/medical/drug evaluations and background checks of pilots. CVR/FDR tech will also improve to provide live data to the Cloud at all times. Perhaps even cameras in the cockpit.
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LH526
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:14 pm

Quoting holzmann (Reply 1):
Driverless cars. Pilotless planes. It's coming. Along with the replacement of many jobs across the globe with AI.

And how many pilot-handled technical faults have occured on airplanes during the last decades that would have turned into desaster would there have been no pilot to act accordingly?
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chrisjake
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:17 pm

You can only do so much.

I don't know how thorough the background checks are that the airlines to on potential pilots, but maybe they need to be upgraded. The company I work for deals with a lot of money, and new hires are basically put through the gauntlet. Not only are they interviewed by numerous individuals AND a board of trustees panel, but rigorous background checks are done. No one is hired if they have any gambling issues, large debt, bad credit, any type of criminal history, etc... From the time of the 1st interview to the actual hiring could be several months. All bases are covered, i's dotted and t's crossed.

Maybe the airlines need to start being more meticulous in their hiring. It will cost more to do this, but it would outweigh all the pending lawsuits that will be happening over this last incident if its proven that it was pilot suicide.

chris
 
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BaconButty
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:22 pm

Egyptair 990 and Silkair 185 are highly dubious additions to that list. In both cases you have the NTSB brought in to investigate the crash of a US build airliner, both times claiming pilot suicide, both times disputed by the local aviation authorities. A hell of a convenient coincidence.
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anstar
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:23 pm

Quoting holzmann (Reply 1):
In short term, rules will change to insure two people remain in the cockpit at all times.

And that in itself won't solve anything. If someone has the intent to down the plane I am sure they will find away. Whats to stop the FO for instance attacking the FA in the cockpit with the crash axe? If they have the intent they will find a way.
 
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:25 pm

And arent some pilots int he US armed with guns? Whats to stop them shooting the FA or the other flight crew member...
 
nomadd22
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:27 pm

What to do about people who seek safety by rendering everyone in the world harmless?
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Luftymatt
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:28 pm

Quoting lh526 (Reply 2):
And how many pilot-handled technical faults have occured on airplanes during the last decades that would have turned into desaster would there have been no pilot to act accordingly?

   Exactly! When all is said and done, I see a lot more risk taking out the human element from flying than with. The general flying public would agree as well, I can't see anyone voluntarily flying on a pilot-less aeroplane.

[Edited 2015-03-26 06:29:49]
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flyingturtle
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:33 pm

Quoting BaconButty (Reply 4):

But that's the rule of the game... the NTSB gets to investigate it, and we have to trust what they write. How convenient for Egypt that they write an accident investigation of their own when the NTSB proposes suicide as the cause...  

We'll see if the German BFU writes another report on top of the BEA one, writing how technical problems led to this accident...

But returning on the topic: 9/11 was an a singular occurrence. Now the passengers will fight any terrorists, and for that end, they also need cockpit access to drag out the terrorists who try to hide there. Of course, 9/11 was horrendous. But on the other hand, it involved just four planes - and that year, already more airliners have crashed if I count right...


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longhauler
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:36 pm

The best way to combat this issue, is to start at the source.

Deal with mental health issues directly. Try to take away the stigma, and treat it no differently than cancer or heart disease (for example). If a pilot felt he could get help, and not shame, he would be more likely to deal with it.

Where I fly, it IS addressed, and it IS acknowledged. Starting at a union level there are phone numbers, one can call 24 hours a day and seek help. No one is judged and it simply starts with removing the pilot from active status as he gets help ... with FULL PAY. Sometimes it is just life's travails ganging up on you, sometimes it is something far more serious.

If it is not curable, or if the drugs needed are not acceptable to Transport Canada, then that pilot will simply deal with his disease till he retires. Depending on how long he has been flying, he may well be paid until age 60 where he retires with a full pension.

Given these circumstances, a pilot is more likely to accept help and get better. Sadly, not every country and not every airline has these "perks". In my very humble opinion, THAT is where improvements should be made ... don't look at changing cockpit doors .... look at adding aid to someone that needs help.
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Flighty
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:55 pm

Every solution carries with it new problems. The door thing solves an issue and created another.

Pilot ill will is very rare but so is terrorism. It is feasible that pilot intent becomes the leading cause of crashes. At that time steps will inevitably be taken. But yes, probably this is part of the human condition. Age may play a role (under 40 being typical for mass shooters) and this crime is worse than most mass shootings. Rather than tender loving care we must also thwart the monsters who do this. The ideal solution will remove the physical power to unilaterally crash an airplane. Pilot authority maybe should not be absolute without consensus (like launching missiles). This is not an undiscovered issue. Nuts have been around for a long time. Tragic
 
mmo
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:55 pm

Quoting cedarjet (Thread starter):
575 killed in 6 (7 if you include FedEx; or 814 if you include MH370). Pilot suicide must surely now be considered a major cause of air disasters, in recent years perhaps the leading cause (especially if MH370 is included).

What to do?

Until you solve the issue in the general population as a whole, you aren't really going to solve the problem.

Pilots are just normal people who deal with the same stress everyone else does. I have been in flight ops management positions and union positions and I can tell you we, as a group, suffer from the same issues everyone else does. However, one of the "gifts" that pilots have is also a curse when it comes to dealing with some rather overwhelming personal issues. Pilots are great at compartmentalizing as that allows them to focus on the task at hand. They are great at three dimensional thinking and have a great ability to multi-task. However, when it comes to asking for advice on personal issues, as a whole we're pretty poor. I have worked with pilots who have family members die, spouses walk out on them and you would never know it. In their minds they would be considered "weak" if they asked for time off or worse yet, ask for help. But again, it's a double edge sword. Those personality traits are what you want in a pilot. The entire spectrum of "mental health" is a very seldom discussed area with pilots. The regulatory authorities, by design or coincidence in the rule making have made the entire process very draconian. There are very few medications you can take if you really need them, if you talk to a psychiatrist you have to disclose that on your annual or semi-annual medical and that opens up a whole can of worms. So, the "system" as it currently stands does nothing to help pilots when they really need help. Until that changes, we will continue to see these tragic, easily avoidable accidents.
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Aaron747
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:06 pm

Quoting longhauler (Reply 10):
Sadly, not every country and not every airline has these "perks".

A lot of countries either lack the perspective or the societal benefit mindset to enact changes making the kind of environment you describe commonplace. The United States is definitely one of them, unfortunately.

Quoting mmo (Reply 12):
Until you solve the issue in the general population as a whole, you aren't really going to solve the problem.

Also an excellent point. Mental health is not so complex as to be impossible to deal with, but it does require more resources, money, and education than most are prepared to expend.
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garpd
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:08 pm

I don’t think the will ever be a fool proof way to properly spot and diagnose Pilots with the potential to committ suicide. So often in suicide cases, close relatives of people have expressed complete surprise at it. Wives, children, Parents all failed to spot any tendency toward suicide.

What needs to be done is ensure that there is always a way to get into the cockpit.
They are now so secure, it’s being used against the system.

In previous aircraft disasters, if a single issue/flaw was identified to have caused or been a major contributor to the event, actions were taken to change it.

We now have 3 confirmed instances where a pilot has locked his colleague out of the cockpit. 2 were fatal (LAM Mozambique, Germanwings) and one ended up luckily in a diversion and claim for asylum (Ethiopian).
It’s time to change the access to the cockpit.

How exactly one would go about securing a cockpit from terrorists, but allowing a pilot to re-enter when his/her counterpart is refusing entry, is a problem not easily solved.

One suggestion is to bring back 3 pilot crews, only one being allowed to leave the flightdeck at any one time.
That way, you keep the ultra secure doors and have a built in defence against a rogue/suicidal pilot in the form of their colleague sitting beside them.

[Edited 2015-03-26 07:36:59]
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zizou
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:08 pm

Have swipe card access (that only pilots have) to access the door at all times. Easy fix?
 
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Revelation
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:09 pm

Quoting longhauler (Reply 10):
The best way to combat this issue, is to start at the source.

Deal with mental health issues directly. Try to take away the stigma, and treat it no differently than cancer or heart disease (for example). If a pilot felt he could get help, and not shame, he would be more likely to deal with it.

Absolutely correct. However in today's climate such helpful programs are seen as costly coddling preventing the mega-rich from becoming even richer.
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werdywerd
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:09 pm

Quoting cedarjet (Thread starter):
Japan Air Lines 24 killed, 9 Feb 1982
Royal Air Moroc 44 killed, 21 Aug 1994
Egyptair 217 killed, 31 Oct 1997
Silkair 107 killed, 19 Dec 1997
LAM Mozambique 33 killed, 29 Nov 2013
Lufthansa (Germanwings) 150 killed, 24 Mar 2015

Fedex attempted pilot suicide, 7 Apr 1994
Malaysia suspected pilot suicide 239 killed, 8 Mar 2014

I would love to see a correlation of the above years with the evolution of the pharmaceutical industries use/pushing of certain drugs for various issues. Now we have pills for EVERYTHING from Anxiety, Limp Male Members, Quitting Smoking, High Cholesterol, dry mouth, dry eyes, foot pain, etc. Many of the side effects are "Suicidal thoughts"....

Just throwing that out there.
 
sw733
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:11 pm

Quoting chrisjake (Reply 3):
You can only do so much.

This is my immediate thought. To be honest, that list of accidents is not many in the overall big picture. A fraction of a fraction of a fraction. You're not going to be able to stop this as long as you have humans in charge of things that can impact other humans. A bus driver could crash his bus and kill the passengers. A driver can park his car on train tracks and cause a derailment that can kill many. And a pilot can crash a plane and kill the passengers. Unfortunately, it's just something that we might not be able to solve if we want humans to be at the controls of anything.
 
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:13 pm

Quoting zizou (Reply 15):
Have swipe card access (that only pilots have) to access the door at all times. Easy fix?

So, a pilot leaves the cockpit for a comfort break. He's assaulted by two would-be hijackers who take the access card from him... Next suggestion?
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flyingturtle
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:15 pm

We could introduce an smartphone app for flight attendants so they can notify the flight operations center of the airline, and request an override of the cockpit door. Communication would be via the airplane's satcom, or ACARS. But these things can be disabled by the pilot, and would also open more opportunities for unlawful interference...

I think we should return to unlocked cockpit doors, improved training for the crew to deal with terrorists (perhaps there will be again hijackers who just want to fly somewhere, and not kill everybody on board), and improve opportunities for the flight crew to have their psychological problems checked without fear of repercussions.

For a determined criminal or suicidal pilot, armed pilots will even be more of a problem. I can already imagine a bad thriller movie where a pilot finishes off the Captain, the lead F/A, the other F/A's and the air marshal, one after the other - while cabin chimes muffle the gunshots.

In tropical medicine, we have diseases we know since more than 100 years and we still don't have a golden bullet to get rid of these diseases... so we always go for multiple approaches.


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billreid
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:23 pm

Quoting zizou (Reply 15):
Have swipe card access (that only pilots have) to access the door at all times. Easy fix?

That in itself would not work. Cards could be stolen, hacked, duplicated.

1. Single person in cockpit should be eliminated.
2. Use Biometrics for entry.
3. Use a system where single person biometrics would not allow access / door override. Instead use a system where three keys are needed for access. Two from aircraft and third from the ground after inputting code or talking via independent air to ground communication system.
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richierich
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:25 pm

Quoting BaconButty (Reply 4):
Egyptair 990 and Silkair 185 are highly dubious additions to that list. In both cases you have the NTSB brought in to investigate the crash of a US build airliner, both times claiming pilot suicide, both times disputed by the local aviation authorities. A hell of a convenient coincidence.

I think the transcripts of those crashes speak for themselves. Certainly in the case of Egyptair 990, it all seems pretty convenient that as soon as the captain got up to use the lav, the aircraft enters a fatal dive, with conflict between the pilots as they tried to regain control. While suicide may not have been 100% proven, I think there is overwhelming evidence pointing to that as the most likely cause.

Quoting zizou (Reply 15):
Have swipe card access (that only pilots have) to access the door at all times. Easy fix?

So then a potential hijacker can subdue a member of the flight deck and take that card? That's not the answer.
Maybe a card and a keypad code?

Quoting sw733 (Reply 18):
This is my immediate thought. To be honest, that list of accidents is not many in the overall big picture. A fraction of a fraction of a fraction. You're not going to be able to stop this as long as you have humans in charge of things that can impact other humans. A bus driver could crash his bus and kill the passengers. A driver can park his car on train tracks and cause a derailment that can kill many. And a pilot can crash a plane and kill the passengers. Unfortunately, it's just something that we might not be able to solve if we want humans to be at the controls of anything.

I don't necessarily accept the throwing of the hands in the air. Obviously there is no resolution that will prevent every scenario, but that doesn't mean that other measures cannot be taken. For example, in the Germanwings tragedy, was procedure correctly followed? Did a flight attendant enter the flight deck as the captain relieved himself? If not, why not?
If this procedure was followed, what happened that prevented the captain from regaining access? There needs to be another step in this process, I'm just not sure what it is.
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billreid
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:25 pm

Did pilot suicides occur when there were three man cockpits?
Perhaps having a third person in the cockpit would be a costly but wise solution?
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BaconButty
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:31 pm

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 9):
But that's the rule of the game... the NTSB gets to investigate it, and we have to trust what they write.

Not really, the NTSB were brought in by the ECAA to do a job, which was seemingly not done to their satisfaction, which they expressed.
The Silkair is quite different - it is rather the NTSB who dissented with the official report.

Either way, you've got to quantify what the problem is, and in these two incidents Pilot Suicide is contested as a cause. This leaves 4 indisputable examples over 33 years, hardly "a major cause of air disasters".
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oly720man
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:33 pm

Quoting billreid (Reply 21):
Use Biometrics for entry.

The person on the outside could be under the control of others.

Quoting billreid (Reply 21):
Use a system where single person biometrics would not allow access / door override. Instead use a system where three keys are needed for access. Two from aircraft and third from the ground after inputting code or talking via independent air to ground communication system.

Again, the person on the outside could be under the control of others. And one key is the PIC and he may refuse. Then what?


There is no situation, once the (co)pilot leaves the cockpit, where he/she can be considered "clean" before re-entry.
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Luftymatt
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:34 pm

Quoting billreid (Reply 23):
Perhaps having a third person in the cockpit would be a costly but wise solution?

It might be wise, but wouldn't happen due to cost. The flight engineer has been all but consigned to the history books for this very reason. Although you're correct, it would be safer for all concerned during all sorts of emergency situations.

How about introducing a code that only the pilots know that can override the lock from the outside of the cockpit? In the case of the 4U crash it would have saved everyone on board.

[Edited 2015-03-26 07:36:27]

[Edited 2015-03-26 07:37:27]
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Western727
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:35 pm

As heavy as the topic is, I respectfully ask us to refrain from using the word "suicide".

Suicide implies no direct collateral damage (in the context of injuring and/or killing others, that is); that was not the case in any of the incidents specified and seems to trivialize the issue and said incidents. These incidents should be called something else, like the French prosecutor and LH CEO said...like murder-suicide (my own words). Because, if true, Lubitz murdered 149 people. That should be the focus and not his own suicide.
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longhauler
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:44 pm

Quoting Western727 (Reply 27):
Lubitz murdered 149 people. That should be the focus and not his own suicide.

In 1972, a BEA Trident crashed after take-off from LHR, due to the Captain's "Heart Attack" either during the take-off run, or shortly before it.

118 people died. Was that murder? I mean, he likely had a sedentary lifestyle and fatty diet. Or was it a disease that caused death, just like this one?
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CXfirst
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:49 pm

Quoting cedarjet (Thread starter):
I don't think a three man crew would help, if one guy goes to the toilet then it's easy for one guy to hit the other with the fire extinguisher
Quoting anstar (Reply 5):
Whats to stop the FO for instance attacking the FA in the cockpit with the crash axe?

With the 2-person cockpit and FA enters the cockpit to cover for a pilot leaving, does make it hard for the one pilot to take complete control. Remember, he is strapped in, seat pushed forward. It would be very cumbersome to actually manage to knock out the FA. However, it doesn't stop the reverse. The FA walking in, could quite easily knock out the pilot in control, especially if he is not paying any attention to the FA.

Quoting scbriml (Reply 19):
So, a pilot leaves the cockpit for a comfort break. He's assaulted by two would-be hijackers who take the access card from him... Next suggestion?

Well, some middle ground needs to be found. If you use an access card, with some added biometrics or keypad, you slow down the potential terrorist significantly. Getting access will take time and during that time, the pilot in command can inform ATC, other pax and fa's could help subdue the terrorist, etc. Passengers fear terrorism these days, and I believe they will be quite quick to step up.

What about some sort of ground based override with the means to contact them from outside the cockpit? Should be feasable. Pilot gets locked out, he contacts ground, they open it for him. Add some security checks, like only pilots can request this, etc, makes it hard for others to get access.

However, no solution is fool proof. In this Germanwings case, the pilot steadily descended into terrain, probably knowing everyone else was locked outside with no way to get in. Even if the door was able to be opened, I'm sure a pilot wanting to commit suicide would find a way. Steep maneuvers could make it difficult to open the door, possibly depressurize the aircraft, etc.
 
Western727
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:50 pm

Quoting longhauler (Reply 28):
In 1972, a BEA Trident crashed after take-off from LHR, due to the Captain's "Heart Attack" either during the take-off run, or shortly before it.

118 people died. Was that murder? I mean, he likely had a sedentary lifestyle and fatty diet. Or was it a disease that caused death, just like this one?

Apples and oranges. You know the difference in motives between a bus driver who dies of a heart attack due to an irresponsible diet and killing pax in the process...vs a bus driver who intentionally swerves a bus into a rock face.

After my brother in law was killed in a vehicular homicide in 2012, common sense (and the law) made it clear it wasn't murder and the perp understandably only got 6 months.

ETA: As I said in my original post, "if true, Lubitz murdered 149 people." So, indeed, we are operating only on a hypothetical assumption that Lubitz had sinister intentions, as this thread is. I fully realize that it's nothing more than a theory at this time, albeit one that looks likely.

[Edited 2015-03-26 07:54:35]
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InsideMan
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:05 pm

Quoting richierich (Reply 22):
For example, in the Germanwings tragedy, was procedure correctly followed? Did a flight attendant enter the flight deck as the captain relieved himself? If not, why not?

because it is not a GW procedure.....
 
Yakflyer
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:05 pm

What needs to be considered is that the same strategies that keep terrorists out keep pilots out if the pilot inside the cockpit will not grant access. Currently most doors have a keypad that will unlock the door after a timed delay. The reason for the timed delay is to allow the pilots to override the keypad input from opening the door. So what is the bigger threat, pilots committing suicide or terrorists?

I believe the terror threat is much larger than the threat from suicide. In my opinion the best way to address the problem is to address the metal health issues. What I have a had time understanding is if one wants to end their life why they would want to take so many with them.
 
StarAC17
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:11 pm

Quoting Revelation (Reply 16):
Absolutely correct. However in today's climate such helpful programs are seen as costly coddling preventing the mega-rich from becoming even richer.

Very true but I think the tide is slowly turning.

Many (smart) business leaders are starting to see that pushing their employees harder often for less compensation than historically they may have earned takes it toll and affects their productivity and in an industry like aviation that had life and death consequences. High turnover in and industry like the airline industry is far more expensive than actually putting in the money to ensure that your employees are healthy.

Quoting scbriml (Reply 19):
So, a pilot leaves the cockpit for a comfort break. He's assaulted by two would-be hijackers who take the access card from him... Next suggestion?

How about bio-metrics such as retina or fingerprint scanners that cannot be easily faked.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 10):
Where I fly, it IS addressed, and it IS acknowledged. Starting at a union level there are phone numbers, one can call 24 hours a day and seek help. No one is judged and it simply starts with removing the pilot from active status as he gets help ... with FULL PAY. Sometimes it is just life's travails ganging up on you, sometimes it is something far more serious.

That is a great to hear coming from your airline but IIRC the stigma often is that if a pilot has mental health problems and admits them then they are simply gone for being to risky. Where in reality mental illness is treatable and employers acknowledging these issues and implementing programs to help people deal with it is a good long term strategy.

Quoting Western727 (Reply 27):
As heavy as the topic is, I respectfully ask us to refrain from using the word "suicide".

Suicide implies no direct collateral damage (in the context of injuring and/or killing others, that is); that was not the case in any of the incidents specified and seems to trivialize the issue and said incidents. These incidents should be called something else, like the French prosecutor and LH CEO said...like murder-suicide (my own words). Because, if true, Lubitz murdered 149 people. That should be the focus and not his own suicide.

Perhaps but there is a bigger issue here that when men suffer mental illness they are likely to end their lives in aggressive manners like this and when you are mentally ill you sense of compassion goes out the window if it isn't treated.

Look at any mass shooting or previous incidents of a pilot intentionally crashing a plane it is always a man.
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Western727
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:13 pm

Quoting Yakflyer (Reply 32):
So what is the bigger threat, pilots committing suicide or terrorists?

I believe the terror threat is much larger than the threat from suicide. In my opinion the best way to address the problem is to address the metal health issues. What I have a had time understanding is if one wants to end their life why they would want to take so many with them.

I concur...the bigger threat, by far, is terrorism. Flight crews are heavily scrutinized already, so I'm much more inclined to trust a member of a flight crew. Many thousands of flights take place every day across the world, and these are fairly isolated incidents. Bad apples exist everywhere; pilots are human beings, too.

At the same time, as has been mentioned elsewhere on A.net, the FO had only 600-some hours, lower than the minimum requirement in the USA (I cannot speak for other nations so feel free to chime in). I cannot help but wonder if that affords AMEs and other personnel less opportunities to catch mental health red flags as opposed to folks with more flight time.
Jack @ AUS
 
Western727
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:16 pm

Quoting StarAC17 (Reply 33):
Perhaps but there is a bigger issue here that when men suffer mental illness they are likely to end their lives in aggressive manners like this and when you are mentally ill you sense of compassion goes out the window if it isn't treated.

Look at any mass shooting or previous incidents of a pilot intentionally crashing a plane it is always a man.

A valid point.
Jack @ AUS
 
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seahawk
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:24 pm

Imho there is a simple solution.

In normal mode the doors open when a person enters the code, no matter what the person in the cockpit does. To protect against attacks from within the cabin the doors can only be truly locked from inside if emergency triggers in the cabin are pressed or if both pilots activate the lock by bio scan. (say fingerprint reader with both pilots need to use at the same time)
 
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jetfuel
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:26 pm

From a suicidal Qantas Pilot

"If I had carried out the phase 1 and shut down the engines, the cabin lights would have gone off and the emergency lights would have illuminated, which would have star­tled the passengers. To give the passengers more palpitations, the normal engine noise would disap­pear and they would feel the aircraft descending rapidly, with the oxygen masks probably dropping down. There would be no explanation over the P.A. as the captain would have his hands full trying to deal with the first officer-induced situation, not really sure if it was an emergency or not. Provided there were no aircraft flying immediately below us, there would have been no threat of danger and after losing a few thousand feet while restarting the engines, the flight would have continued quite safely. The paperwork would have created more problems than the incident, as Air Traffic Control would want to have their say, the newspaper and TV reporters would have a field day digging up eyewitness ac­counts, and what would happen to me? Who knows?



I now know the outcome of what happened to me by not carrying out this emergency procedure. A life of misunderstanding brought on by pro­fessionals not wanting to get involved with an illness that they couldn't see. In hindsight, sometimes I wish I had gone ahead with shutting down the engines, as that would have been that. I would have been severely disciplined, had the required treatment, and been able to carry on in a less demanding career."

http://www.qantasjetstar.com/
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frmrCapCadet
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:44 pm

There are enough known and highly suspected suicides in this context now that statistics can likely be applied back in time to crashes previously unexplained, not to individual crashes but as a percentage. The number is likely to be cases per thousand incidents or cases per 10 million flights.

Suicide itself needs to be divided into at least of few categories. Simple suicide from Roman times, and increasingly today is considered a private matter. Anger with the world and intentions to take as many others are one can is entirely a different thing. The psychology behind the two, the effects on others, the damage to society are not just a little different, but entirely different.

[Edited 2015-03-26 09:00:07]
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ukoverlander
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:58 pm

This is more than pilot suicide it's actually mass murder. I'm no psycholgist but somebody who is willing take down a plane load of innocent passengers will find a way. We've locked the cockpit door to keep terrorists out. Now we run the risk of locking a pilot (or pilots) in. As others mentioned a fire axe, a fire extinguisher, rules in the USA that allows guns in the cockpit - all these things can be used to evil intent in the hands of a disturbed individual inside the cockpit.

It's a huge tragedy but other than rule changes that will insist upon two persons in the cockpit at all times (still no guarantee that that ensures safety as mentioned) and perhaps airlines establishing more frequent psychological screening I'm not sure the airlines will throw a lot of money at this. Statistically it's always going to be a highly improbable event and the larger potential threat is likely to come from evil intent outside the cockpit.

Let's not forget the industry still hasn't comprehensively addressed the issue of how you ensure you can't 'lose' a 777 without trace in busy commercial airspace. A year later we are be still clueless as to what happened and as to the final resting place of that aircraft. The for me that is a bigger problem (not in any way meaning to diminish the loss and tragedy of the Germanwings atrocity).

Change in the aviation industry is often very slow to occur unless the events in question are likely to genuinely move the financial needle.
 
Western727
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:17 pm

Quoting ukoverlander (Reply 39):
This is more than pilot suicide it's actually mass murder.

  

A pilot suicide means something like taking a general aviation plane down into a field without injuring or killing anyone else. We're talking about something bigger and more sinister, hence the French prosecutor and LH CEO's remarks that Germanwings was not a suicide.
Jack @ AUS
 
KFlyer
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:25 pm

This is tragic - but like many posters have mentioned this issue may not be entirely eliminated as long as the human nature is the same. No amount of background checks or rules may help it and this issue will only get more serious in an increasingly commercialized world. I think the best we could do is re-build the trust with the understanding of both parties. One practical solution, though risky, may be is to allow access to cockpit more easily and let the airports keep harmful passengers out of aircraft. While three man crew is the best, many airlines may be reluctant as it will involve roughly a 33% increase in the highest paid labor cost category. And we all have a role to play in making the world a better and less stressful place for the humankind.
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airbazar
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:28 pm

Quoting Flighty (Reply 11):
Pilot ill will is very rare but so is terrorism. It is feasible that pilot intent becomes the leading cause of crashes. At that time steps will inevitably be taken.

If we were to assume that MH370 was caused by pilot suicide then locked cockpit doors have now killed more people than terrorist hijakers. I never liked the idea of these doors that can't be opened from the outside by anyone. No civilian building code would allow such a thing anywhere because it is a safety hazard. I don't know why it is allowed on airplanes.
 
osiris30
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:30 pm

Quoting BaconButty (Reply 4):
Egyptair 990 and Silkair 185 are highly dubious additions to that list. In both cases you have the NTSB brought in to investigate the crash of a US build airliner, both times claiming pilot suicide, both times disputed by the local aviation authorities. A hell of a convenient coincidence.

Careful with allegations like that.. they can go both ways. There's been more than a few times that Euro investigators have come up with findings that are questionable involving Euro built aircraft (according to some well respected folks). Hell even the current incident isn't exactly definitively suicide yet (unless there is additional data that hasn't been released yet).

You either trust the investigators or you don't. If you don't you have to pretty much throw out a large % flights on that list.
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scbriml
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:32 pm

Quoting airbazar (Reply 42):
If we were to assume that MH370 was caused by pilot suicide then locked cockpit doors have now killed more people than terrorist hijakers.

They have?   
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nomadd22
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:41 pm

Quoting zizou (Reply 15):
Have swipe card access (that only pilots have) to access the door at all times. Easy fix?
Quoting airbazar (Reply 42):

If we were to assume that MH370 was caused by pilot suicide then locked cockpit doors have now killed more people than terrorist hijakers. I never liked the idea of these doors that can't be opened from the outside by anyone. No civilian building code would allow such a thing anywhere because it is a safety hazard. I don't know why it is allowed on airplanes.

No, because a pilot who crashes the plane on purpose is a terrorist hijacker.
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PanHAM
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:43 pm

Quoting longhauler (Reply 28):
118 people died. Was that murder? I mean, he likely had a sedentary lifestyle and fatty diet. Or was it a disease that caused death, just like this one

No, of course not. Murder must be intentional, the BEA accident wasn't even manslaughter. It was simply an unfortunate accident.

Quoting InsideMan (Reply 31):

because it is not a GW procedure.....


Not only GW procedure. As I understood Mr. Spohr in the press conference, Germany law requires that only licensed poilots can take a seat in the cokcpit.

Quoting StarAC17 (Reply 33):
Look at any mass shooting or previous incidents of a pilot intentionally crashing a plane it is always a man.

IIRC the Royal Air Maroc mass muder/suicide was caused by a woman Pilot.
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Western727
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:50 pm

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 46):
IIRC the Royal Air Maroc mass muder/suicide was caused by a woman Pilot.

It's actually the other way around; the female FO radioed a distress signal after the male captain allegedly sent the ATR into a dive: http://articles.latimes.com/1994-08-26/news/mn-31366_1_love-affair
Jack @ AUS
 
EMAman
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:55 pm

Quoting BaconButty (Reply 4):
Egyptair 990 and Silkair 185 are highly dubious additions to that list. In both cases you have the NTSB brought in to investigate the crash of a US build airliner, both times claiming pilot suicide, both times disputed by the local aviation authorities. A hell of a convenient coincidence.

No chance, proven beyond all reasonable doubt....
 
EMAman
Posts: 206
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RE: What To Do About Pilot Suicide

Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:57 pm

Quoting Revelation (Reply 16):
Quoting longhauler (Reply 10):
The best way to combat this issue, is to start at the source.

Deal with mental health issues directly. Try to take away the stigma, and treat it no differently than cancer or heart disease (for example). If a pilot felt he could get help, and not shame, he would be more likely to deal with it.

Absolutely correct. However in today's climate such helpful programs are seen as costly coddling preventing the mega-rich from becoming even richer.

Yes but the mental health issues do not always manifest themselves. I strongly suspect that either the germanwings pilot or Zaharie (MH370) would have exhibited any.

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