Is my co-pilot mentally stable?

Preliminary screening lessons from the Germanwings crash

Mar 26, 2015

by John Ogle, MD, MPH, FACEP

Commercial Pilot / USAF Flight Surgeon


On March 24, 2015, a 27 year old co-pilot, deliberately slammed Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps killing 150 people. Ironically, the door's isolation capability may have enabled the co-pilot's mass murder.

The sealed cockpit door provided time and space for the isolated first officer to commandeer his Airbus A320 into a slow and deadly descent as the helpless captain, crew and passengers remained locked out of the flight deck. Grief and outrage in the aviation community is expected to focus our discussion on the proper role of mental health screening for pilots.

This mulit-part series addresses the difficult challenges inherent in predicting, preventing and defeating single point mass murders that are conceived, planned or conducted with commercial aircraft.

Background Brief:

Author: John Ogle, MD, MPH, FACEP is one of our senior flight surgeons. He is an experienced Air Force Crash investigator, a former AME, an emergency medicine physician and a commercial pilot with degrees in medicine, epidemiology and aerospace engineering.

Editor's Note: This series represents Dr Ogle's personal and professional opinions. His preliminary ideas may or may not reflect those of the FAA, the US Air Force or Details of the horrific crash are still emerging at the time of publication. The staff originally published a 3 part format on Mar 26, 2015, and this was subdivided into 6 parts, on Apr 5, 2015. Editorial Staff