An aviation researcher, writer, aviation participant, pilot & agricultural researcher. Author of over 35 scientific publications world wide.


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#casa and #avmed concerns of disclosure

The effects of non-disclosure are the potential missing of a safety related problem. The #atsb RepCon area has reported major reductions in voluntary disclosure by pilots and others in the #ozaviation area.

This has been at the same time as increasing pressures from the regulator #casa and increasing penal/ fine conditions promulgated by #casa in it’s increasing regulatory nightmare.

That there are fines [for example] of up to $A8500 for failing to keep a logbook after a pilot finishes his/her flying career for the “…regulatory required 7-years…”. Combine that with a logbook trawl that shows “…missing…” information [as determined by #casa…] and the fine can expand exponentially, with no proper finish point.

I am aware of pilots being prosecuted years after an alleged offence.

Quadrio springs to mind and he, for an alleged minor and non-proven offence [#casa withdrew it’s criminal charges after almost 3-years], still does not have his licence back some, almost 7-years later.

In John’s case, #casa played a double jeopardy by giving a show-cause notice at the same time he had to answer 7, unspecified charges [later the CDPP backed away and withdrew the case, presumably for lack of evidence]

Major issues here of course.


By Lucy Wood Published: October 4, 2015

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced it will review its security and hiring standards to prevent a tragedy such as the downing of the Germangwings plane by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz at the expense of 150 lives. In light of the stakes, let’s hope that the focus remains on the most helpful questions about how the Federal Aviation Administration monitors the mental health of pilots. Those questions must focus on how to incentivize disclosure.

To start, we don’t need to revisit our laws. The Americans with Disabilities Act permits an employer to require an employee to submit to testing to ensure safety where there is reason to believe the employee poses a “direct threat” to himself or others.

We also don’t need to re-investigate whether past depression is a good predictor of future violence. The evidence is clear that it’s not.

And a blanket exclusion of everyone with a diagnosable condition is utterly impractical anyway.

Instead, we should be looking closely at the link between the failure to disclose information about one’s mental state and injury to others.

If increased disclosure reduces workplace violence, then we need to know how to foster it. Almost nothing has been written on this, but there is reason to think that hard-and-fast blanket exclusions of workers discourage disclosure. That is, when employees know they won’t be subject to a blanket exclusionary rule but will instead have the actual risks of their conditions evaluated carefully, they are far more likely to come forward.

Five years ago, the FAA lifted a long-standing prohibition on flying while taking antidepressants. Some advocates are now demanding that the agency allow pilots “closeted” with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, to be able to take certain medicines.

If we’re serious about safety, we need to put ourselves in the Germanwings co-pilot’s shoes. Circumstances in 2009 apparently led him to tell his bosses that he had been hospitalized for depression and had been suicidal. The disclosure resulted in his successful treatment and re-integration, at least for a time. But in 2015, it appears that Lubitz had by then been told that his pursuit of any treatment would mean he couldn’t fly. He was driven to doctor-shop to find treatment that would hide from the doctors themselves — and from his employer — the gravity of his condition.

What can we do in the U.S. to maximize the likelihood that a pilot will reveal important information about his mental state?

In a world where “passing” is still the operative word for most employees with mental illness, how can we encourage disclosure?

We should begin by allowing pilots, and other workers, to answer questions anonymously about the circumstances under which they would disclose various symptoms and feelings that we care about. We should study what safeguards, if any, would lead to more sharing and remove perceived or reported barriers to disclosure. And we need to determine whether workers in areas with fewer protections against discrimination and termination would be less likely to disclose. Is there more workplace violence in such regimes?

These are the kinds of questions America should ask itself in the wake of the Germanwings crash. Fortunately, those focused on opportunity and safety can on this point agree. The answers, however, may be hard to find.

Wood is a clinical professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin.

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