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EASA strengthens medical requirements for pilots

EASA has published a set of proposals to the European Commission for an update of the rules concerning pilots’ medical fitness, as part of its Action Plan following the Germanwings Flight 9525 accident. These rules are contained in so-called Part-MED, which covers aviation safety rules related to the medical aspect and fitness of aircrews. Released in a document known as an Opinion, these proposals introduce the following new requirements, among others:

– strengthening the initial and recurrent medical examination of pilots, by including drugs and alcohol screening, comprehensive mental health assessment, as well as improved follow-up in case of medical history of psychiatric conditions;
– increasing the quality of aero-medical examinations, by improving the training, oversight and assessment of aero-medical examiners;
– preventing fraud attempts, by requiring aero-medical centres and AMEs to report all incomplete medical assessments to the competent authority.

These proposals have been subject to consultation with all concerned stakeholders. They address relevant safety recommendations made after the Flight 9525 accident by the EASA-led Task Force, as well as by the French “Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses” (BEA). The EASA Opinion also includes a broader update of Part-MED, aimed at keeping the rules up-to-date with latest developments in the field of medicine and filling any gaps identified through the operational experience.

The EASA Opinion will serve as the basis for a legislative proposal by the European Commission towards the end of 2016. To support the implementation of the new rules, EASA has prepared draft guidance material (so-called Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material – AMC/GM), annexed to the Opinion. The final AMC/GM will be published when the new rules have been adopted by the Commission. A further set of regulatory proposals in the area of Air Operations will follow before the end of the year.

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