On the 9th of December 2016, EASA has published a proposal to the European Commission on new operational rules to better support pilot mental fitness. EASA’s proposal is part of its Action Plan following the Germanwings Flight 9525 accident.

EASA’s proposal is released in a document known as an Opinion (Opinion 14/2016) and it includes the new requirements on the mental fitness of the pilots, as follows:

  • Ensuring that all pilots have access to a support programme;

  • Mandating airlines to perform a psychological assessment of pilots before the start of employment;

  • Introducing systematic Drug & Alcohol (D&A) testing of flight and cabin crew upon employment, after a serious incident or accident, with due cause (i.e. following reasonable suspicion), as well as

  • Unannounced D&A testing after rehabilitation and return to work;

  • As an additional safety barrier for airlines which are not already subject to a national programme for psychoactive substance testing: mandatory random alcohol screening of flight and cabin crew within the EU RAMP inspection programme.

These EASA’s requirements are contained in the so-called Air OPS Implementing Rules. The proposed rules have been subject to consultation with all stakeholders concerned. As part of a total system approach, they complement the proposals EASA issued in August 2016, on the update of medical requirements for pilots (Part-MED).

The proposals address relevant safety recommendations made after the Flight 9525 accident by the EASA-led Task Force, as well as by the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA).