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Flight crew medical visit: what are the applicable European regulations?

The medical control of airline pilots is provided, in France, by the health service of the armies. This is not the case everywhere.
The medical control of airline pilots is provided, in France, by the health service of the armies.

(BRUSSELS2) The question of medical control of pilots and cabin crew – an eminently technical subject – was brought to the forefront by the accident of the German Wings A320 between Digne and Gap. In France, generally the control of airline pilots is carried out by doctors from military hospitals. This is not the case everywhere… Explanation

Some pilots have questioned new European regulations which would allow, tomorrow, to have medical controls, less strict than those of today, allowing in particular to use general practitioners instead of medical expertise centers like Today. Is this correct or not?

Today I asked the European Commission to inform me about the real state of its regulations. Surprisingly, the duty spokesperson responded in a tangent, according to an argument in three elements which can be summarized as follows: 1. We should not “speculate” on a change in regulations today. 2. There are no regulatory changes underway. 3. You should contact EASA, the European aviation safety agency, and not the European Commission.

Rather confusing answer (to be diplomatic :-), which needs to be clarified.

1° The European Commission is ultimately competent in matters of regulation (even if most of the regulations are “written” by EASA). And her alone. It also intervenes within the framework of its powers of execution of more general legislation – approved by the legislative authority: Parliament and Council (Regulation (EC) No. 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council).

2° A very detailed regulation was thus finalized, “ determining the technical requirements and administrative procedures applicable to civil aviation flight personnel » regulations amended several times. The latest Commission regulation, which dates from November 3, 2011, was amended in 2012 (Regulation (EU) No 290/2012 of March 30, 2012, and twice in 2014 (Regulation (EU) No 70/2014 of January 27, 2014, Regulation (EU) n° 245/2014 of March 13, 2014) A consolidated version can be downloaded here. It should be noted that this regulation does not require “transposition” in the Member States, like a directive. But it often requires enforcement measures (in the form of a ministerial decree, in France for example), if only to designate medical control centers.

3° The latest changes concern, among other things, the methods of medical control. And, effectively, we open up the possibility, “ if the national law of the Member State issuing the license allows it », to general practitioners (= GMP) to carry out medical checks on certain pilots, but not on all. This concerns pilots in the LAPL category – a new category of licenses created for light aviation pilots (less than 2 tonnes, less than 3 passengers*), therefore not pilots of commercial airliners.

4° Airline pilots remain subject to control by an aeromedical center (= AeMC **) for their initial certificate and their admission to the career. For the renewal of their certificate, this will be done either by an AeMC or by an aeromedical examiner (= AME, a specialized doctor). In certain countries, medical examinations can therefore be renewed – with this new regulation – by an “individual doctor”, as a civil aviation specialist confirmed to B2.

Extract: “Class 1 and 2 medical certificates are extended or renewed by an AeMC or an AME. Medical certificates for LAPL are revalidated or renewed by an AeMC, an AME or, if the national law of the licensing Member State allows it, by a GMP. »

5° The medical fitness requirements are clearly described in Annex IV of the European regulation. It notably includes quite detailed paragraphs on psychiatric aptitude or loss of aptitude.

"a) The applicant must not have a proven medical history or clinical diagnosis of any psychiatric disease or impairment, condition or disorder, acute or chronic, congenital or acquired, likely to affect the safe exercise the privileges of the license(s) in question.

b) The applicant presenting mental or behavioral disorders due to the consumption or abuse of alcohol or psychotropic substances is declared unfit until he or she is recovered and free from any dependence on the substance in question. After successful treatment, he undergoes a psychiatric evaluation, the result of which must be satisfactory. The applicant for a Class 1 medical certificate is referred to the licensing authority. (…)

c) The applicant with a psychiatric condition such as: 1) mood disorders; 2) neurotic disorders; 3) personality disorders; 4) mental and behavioral disorders; must undergo a satisfactory psychiatric examination before a fitness assessment can be considered.

d) An applicant with a history of isolated or repeated acts of deliberate self-harm is deemed unfit. This applicant must submit to a psychiatric examination, the result of which is satisfactory, before a fitness assessment can be considered.

(e) Aeromedical assessment: (1) the applicant for a Class 1 medical certificate with any of the conditions set out in point (b), (c) or (d) above shall be referred to the licensing authority; (…)

f) An applicant with a history or established diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizotypal or delusional disorder is declared unfit. An applicant for a Class 1 medical certificate showing any of the conditions listed in b), c) or d) above is referred to the licensing authority; »

Small comment: it's quite simple actually. Just say it. Good crisis communication is not about denying information or sending journalists to “bullet”, it is about giving the right information…


(*) If I understood correctly.

(**) Function provided in France by the medical expertise centers for flying personnel (CEMPN), which are generally attached to a military hospital in France: the Percy hospital in the Paris region (Clamart), Sainte Anne in Toulon, Robert Picque in Bordeaux. There is also the Air France Center at Roissy and the Toulouse-Blagnac center.

Read also: Condolences from Europeans after the crash of the A320

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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