The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday that it had instructed its Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to make recommendations on how to better screen the safety of pilots flying in American airspace within the next six months.
It said the study, which is to be conducted by FAA officials and representatives of the private aviation industry, was aimed at finding more effective ways of monitoring the mental and emotional health of pilots.
The statement specifically referred to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean last year, as well as Germanwings flight 4U9525, which slammed into a mountain in southern France on March 24, killing all 150 people on board.
While there is still no evidence to suggest what caused MH370 to disappear from the radar, the preliminary results of an investigation into the Germanwings crash has suggested that the flight's co-pilot deliberately crashed the Airbus A-320 after locking the pilot out of the cockpit.
The ARC, which according to the FAA statement, is to include both American and international "aviation industry experts," is to be tasked with examining not only the methods of evaluating pilots' mental health, but also barriers to reporting any suspected issues.
The Reuters news agency quoted a statement issued by Claudia Lange, a spokesperson for German flag-carrier Lufthansa, which owns budget air carrier Germanwings as saying that the airline "highly welcomes efforts that serve to further increase international aviation safety and will fully support these efforts."
pfd/jil (AFP, Reuters)