IATA: Germanwings Crash Could Lead to Hiring Changes

 - April 8, 2015, 3:26 PM
IATA chief Tony Tyler said the Germanwings crash may lead world airlines to change their hiring practices. (Photo: Bill Carey)

The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps could lead airlines to change the way they hire and screen pilots, the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) believes. Tony Tyler, IATA director general and CEO, also offered veiled criticism of the crash investigation by French authorities, who quickly determined that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately downed the Airbus A320.

Speaking with reporters in Washington, D.C, on April 8, Tyler was asked if the March 24 crash will prompt world airlines to change their hiring practices. Germanwings parent company Lufthansa has acknowledged that Lubitz informed his flight training school in 2009 that he had suffered an episode of severe depression.

“The issue of psychological screening, psychological testing, the evaluation of the mental state of not only pilots but others in the safety value chain as it were, will no doubt be something that has to be considered,” Tyler said. “…There has been a lot of work done on health care requirements for the crew, but I think people will start looking at these issues now with fresh eyes. We need to draw all the knowledge that we currently have and consider what we need to do about it.”

In opening remarks, Tyler described as “highly unusual” the circumstances of the crash investigation headed by French prosecutor Brice Robin. “Something that began as an accident investigation morphed very quickly into a highly public criminal investigation in which it seemed that every day new revelations were coming out,” he said. “This is a truly extraordinary case in many ways, but it shouldn’t set a precedent in the future. The aviation industry has long established procedures for investigating accidents…This has helped make aviation the safest form of long distance travel the world has ever known.”

A reporter later asked Tyler if he believed French authorities were wrong in the way they conducted the investigation. “I’m not going to say that anyone’s done anything wrong,” he responded. “But I think the important principle to bear in mind is that accident investigations should be conducted on a non-punitive basis…When you have the possibility of punitive measures resulting from an accident investigation, you then start to introduce unhelpful dynamics into the whole process and you risk losing the transparency, the openness (needed) to identify root causes.”