By KIRTHANA SASITHARAN, HÜRRIYET DAILY NEWS
The International Civil Aviation Organization answered questions from the Press today regarding the progress they have made thus far in the committee. The delegates also disclosed to the Press how they feel about emphasizing mental health assessments and how safety measures would be implemented structurally and financially.
The delegates were asked what regulations were being planned regarding screening pilots for mental health issues, especially since the Germanwings accident. To this, the delegate from Saudi Arabia said that the committee was working on implementing a health exam that pilots would have to take periodically, and in the case that the pilot or any crewmember fails that exam, the the pilots will have to be suspended from such flight activities. This suspension will last until they take the exam next year. Through these means, aviation experts and airlines would be able to keep track of the mental state of their crewmembers and ensure that they are fit for travel.
The delegate from Japan added that another regulation that was being considered was creating a certified pilot pool, which would exempt pilots that have extensive flying hours from having to take the test that was being considered. This exemption suggests that there is still discrepancy within the committee regarding whether mental health issues should be taken seriously.
When the delegates were asked about their opinions regarding FAA’s proposal to enforce a two-person rule, which has two air crew members in the cockpit at all times, the delegate from Iran mentioned that they supported this notion strongly. The delegate says this point is especially important in the case of emergencies. The delegate from Libya agreed with FAA’s proposal as well, especially in regards to the possibility of a fluctuating mental state of a pilot. For this reason, having two members in the cockpit at all times would “provide safety for those not only in the cockpit but also the passengers on the plane.”
The delegates also addressed the inquiry of how they plan to make airports in developing nations safer. The delegate from Chile said the best way to do that would be to have developed countries help developing countries implement safety measures through means of advice and funding measures.
Finally, the committee was asked what they were going to do about outdated planes. The delegate from Germany pointed out how difficult it was to track older planes, since newer planes have the ACARS system. The delegate said that this transmission system needs to be incorporated in the older planes, especially for developing countries. The delegate from Italy said the issue is not with older planes, but rather the maintenance required for them. The delegate said, “maintenance programs need to still be in alliance with the standards today to make sure they do not fail mechanically.”
This committee has taken important strides and initiatives to cover most concerns regarding the aviation system and the issues surrounding it. Tomorrow they will be voting on the resolutions that have been put forth.