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Germany agrees to start spot checking pilots for drugs, alcohol: report

The German government has agreed to implement surprise checks on pilots to test for alcohol and certain medications, a report says. The checks are supposed to help prevent catastrophes like the Germanwings crash in 2015.

Germany's ruling coalition has agreed on a proposal to invoke stricter controls for airplane pilots in the wake of the tragic Germanwings crash in March 2015, according to a report in the German newspaper "Süddeutsche Zeitung."

"We want to expand the Air Traffic Act in order to strengthen security in the aviation sector," Ulrich Lange, the transport spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary party, told the newspaper in a report published on Friday.

Under the proposed amendments, airlines must be certain that aviation personnel are "competent and able" to

"ensure a safe and orderly flight,"

the paper said, citing internal documents.

The coalition-approved draft also states that airlines will be required to check pilots and cabin crews to test whether they are "under the influence of medication, alcohol, or other psychoactive substances" if they suspect that their personnel might be impaired.

Medical data 'secure'

The German government also wants to create an aero-medical database to tackle the issue of "doctor shopping," the paper said.

Lange however stressed that data security would be of the utmost importance to secure "the important relationship of trust between pilot and doctor."

The proposals will now be handed on to the German parliament for approval.

Deliberate crash

The enhanced measures are the result of

a special task force established by the Transport Ministry

following last year's Germanwings plane crash.

The disaster occurred when Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked himself inside his plane's cockpit and deliberately crashed an Airbus A320 into the French Alps,

killing all 150 people on board in March 2015.

Prosecutors later said they found torn-up sick notes from doctors in Lubitz' home. Authorities also assert the 27-year-old had suffered severe depression and may have been afraid of losing his job. They say he had researched ways to commit suicide and concealed his illness from his employer.

rs/tj (dpa, EFE)

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