Seeking answers about pilot exams

March 28, 2012 3:39:44 PM PDT
Yesterday, it was a Jet Blue senior pilot.

Earlier this month an American Airlines flight attendant was forced off her plane after a rant about crashing.

Both incidents are on the minds of those flying today.

"I'm a nervous flyer anyway so I just do my best to keep calm, and think it is an exception," Maryanne of Garnet Valley said.

The emotional stability of a crew member was raised 13 years ago after the EgyptAir 990 crash. The NTSB concluded it was likely a relief pilot pushed the 767 into a deep fatal dive over the Atlantic.

Some European airlines reportedly have periodic psychiatric reviews.

As for US airlines, US Airways, which is of course the dominate carrier in Philadelphia, refused to talk about it psychiatric evaluation procedures of its air crews. Except to say, safety is always at the forefront of its policies.

Southwest declined to talk referring all call to its pilots union which did not respond today.

Aviation attorney Arthur Wolk has an airline transport pilots license and has 1,000 hours in jets. He says every six months commercial airline pilots are required to see an FAA trained doctor for a medical checkup.

The primary focus is on physical condition eyes, heart, blood pressure, as for emotional issues, it's pretty informal,

"[The doctor] makes a determination based on a conversation like we are having as to whether or not the pilot looks like he has himself all together," Wolk said. "There is no formal analysis of the mental capacity or condition of the person undergoing the exam."

Wolk concludes, "This is a very serious thing, but fortunately, it happens so rarely, it is not an imminent danger that it should cause anybody to be afraid to get on an airliner."