SEJONG, Nov. 30 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea will strengthen the evaluation process to check the mental health of its pilots to prevent another German wings type of tragedy, the government said Sunday.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said new guidelines will go into effect starting in December.
Under the changes, the government will designate specialized hospitals and counseling clinics that can better ascertain the mental state of flyers on a regular basis.
The ministry said the airlines will be required to more stringently check prospective pilots to make certain they have no criminal backgrounds and no history of mental illness.
“All medical and mental records will be protected to ensure utmost privacy,” it said. “Airlines will make certain excessive work schedules of pilots do not affect performance and safety.” Companies will, moreover, be obliged to fully support psychological treatment of their pilots.
The ministry said that despite initial opposition from pilot groups concerned about privacy issues, the differences were resolved through open dialogue that helped all sides to reach on understanding.
The latest move is in reaction to the apparent suicide of the German wings co-pilot that resulted in the deaths of 150 people in March. The pilot is suspected of having deliberately flown his A321 jet into the French Alps.
According to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, eight of the 2,758 aircraft crashes from 2003 through 2012 involved pilot suicide.