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Pilot Assistance Programme announced

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association has approved a Pilot Assistance Programme which uses Psychologist trained and supervised volunteers to provide members with advice and triage support for mental health issues.

Association Medical and Welfare Director Captain Herwin Bongers has been working on the programme for the past year and says it is timely the board has signed off on this assistance in the light of the tragic Germanwings crash in the French Alps.

“The idea of the support means those with mental health issues can get referred to a Psych appointment once it’s determined whether he or she requires treatment,” Captain Bongers said.

“The programme shows we are committed to providing a safer and healthier pathway of assistance for our members who may be undergoing poor responses to stress or low moods and the programme is effective immediately.

“This programme recognises that assistance, referral, treatment and recovery is a far safer pathway than punitive punishment, which only serves to drive issues underground possibly leading to poor outcomes as the likes of the Germanwings crash.” Captain Bongers said.

“While details of the Germanwings disaster are still unfolding and an official air accident investigation is underway, it’s important to allow the appropriate authorities to do their investigation properly and then give an informative conclusion.”

The Civil Aviation Authority has reacted quickly to the disaster by tightening flight deck safety procedures to New Zealand pilots stating that a minimum of two people are in the flight deck at any given time.

This applies to domestic and international flights and the CAA says this is a precautionary approach on such matters in the interest of safety.

The CAA is continuing to work closely with New Zealand based operators to review procedures including the minimum of two people in the cockpit at all times and the ongoing updating of medical checks.

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