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Germanwings impact: DGCA may issue guidelines on psychometric tests for pilots

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New Delhi: India’s safety regulator DGCA is framing comprehensive guidelines to make it mandatory for airlines to get all pilots tested on specified psychological parameters. As of now, airlines like IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet etc. conduct these tests individually. Though the issue of getting pilots screened on psychological health arose in the aftermath of the Germanwings crash, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has so far not mandated such tests.
Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP
According to a senior DGCA official, if a current proposal on psycho tests for pilots is approved, they may be subject to at least three such tests in their career. The first time, they will be tested before joining any flying training institute; then when they join work with an airline and the third time when they take command of an aircraft. In case the aircraft they are flying is part of an ‘incident’, then they will again be tested on psychometric parameters.
The official quoted earlier said that some Indian airlines already conduct psycho tests of their cockpit crew and use various techniques to gather information. For example, IndiGo takes extensive feedback about a pilot’s psychological condition even from drivers who pick up the cockpit crew for duty. Of course, airlines have certified medical staff to assess pilots’ psychological health too.
So have there been cases reported to the DGCA where pilots’ psycho health was the reason for an incident? The official pointed to an incident on an Air India flight in April this year where the commander and his deputy got into a scuffle because the former addressed the co-pilot “uncle”. Both the pilots had to be de-rostered.
Before finalising the guidelines in psycho tests for pilots, the DGCA will consult the Indian Air Force, the aviation medical institute in Bangalore and psychologists.

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