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NZALPA comments on BEA Report into German Wings Crash

One year on from the tragic loss of German Wings flight 4U9525 on 24 March 2015, our thoughts are still with the families of the 150 crew and passengers that were on board the aircraft.  


The final report of the French BEA (Le Bureau d' Enquêtes et d' Analyses) accident investigation bureau, has now been released. The considered, fact based results of the official investigation are now available, and IFALPA (the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations) of which the New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) was a founder member - has urged all aviation safety regulators to listen to the BEA and implement its safety recommendations in a balanced way.

"The safety recommendations of the BEA form a balanced package of measures designed to make such a disaster in the future less likely.  It is important that this package is implemented in its entirety and not just those parts which seem easy to implement." said Captain Martin Chalk, President of IFALPA, in a media statement released this week.


Particular attention should be paid to the care of crew members affected by behavioural health problems.  Peer support programs are recognised as the best protection from behavioural health problems.  These programs offer help without fear of direct consequences to employment.  Only then can the basis for the necessary trust between doctor and patient be assured and which is key in enabling any affected crew member or their family, colleagues or friends to share their concerns.


Another fundamental recommendation of the BEA’s report is both financial and social security in the event of a pilot’s loss of licence and income.  The risk of economic ruin can be a significant negative influence on a crew member’s willingness to disclose their concerns to a doctor, colleague or family member.


NZALPA represents 2,500 professional pilots and air traffic controllers in New Zealand and has developed a Peer Assistance Network (PAN) with the supervision and oversight of an aviation psychologist specialist.  With peers trained to support the psychological wellbeing of New Zealand’s aviation professionals, and specialist referral channels available where appropriate, there is an improved response pathway already in place in New Zealand providing protection and assistance for crew members suffering behavioural health problems.


If we allow ourselves to be drawn into responding to the German Wings tragedy in a manner which stigmatises psychological wellbeing issues, there is a far greater risk of driving pilot stress and anxiety problems underground rather than towards the far more effective treatment response that the PAN network offers.


NZALPA is seeking to have the agreement, support and co-operation of as many of New Zealand’s aviation organisations as possible and calls for them to join the network and thereby serve to improve both the programme’s coverage and effectiveness throughout New Zealand.


Please address any questions to:


Captain Herwin Bongers

NZALPA Medical and Welfare Director

027 443 7946

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