Suicidal airline Pilots

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Huntn, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. Huntn, Mar 27, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015

    Huntn Suspended

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #1
    I did not see an established thread here or in current events...
    Germanwings Crash March 2015

    For those not familiar, it's interesting that several/many, I don't know how many Eurpoean Airlines allowed a single pilot to remain in the flight deck during a pilot break, but in the U.S. as I recall right after 9-11, security policies changed and two crew members were always required up front, either an off duty pilot or a flight attendant. After all what if your single pilot has an event like a heart attack? I believe the single pilot policy will change in Europe now.

    It may also be of interest that an airplane like the Airbus A320 has flight laws that prevent the airplane from exceeding certain flight parameters , like nosing over the plane and exceeding a certain amount of pitch or overspeed, but the plane does not know if the intent is there to land or not so a controlled descent down is not surprising for this aircraft if the intent is to fly it into a mountain.

    And finally there was a day when airplanes had flight deck keys used to open the door, but now (at least in the Airbus), no key, but a code and that code can be overrided by the pilot to prevent entry to the flight deck, hence the need for two people up there at all times. If this had been the case, it would not have been impossible, but it would be much more difficult to pull off.

    To my knowledge, there have been no US based airline pilot suicides in this manner, but even so these kinds of event may end up with more routine pilot scrutiny being applied through some means. I understand depression, I don't hold it against someone who is depressed, I don't hold it against them if they think their life sucks and they want to end it. But I do hold it against them when they feel it's a justified to take a plane full of passengers with them, like "you deserve it too." :(
     
  2. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #2
    I wish people who wanted to partake in a murder-suicide would start with suicide first. You want to remove yourself from the gene pool? Fine. Be my guest. Just use one of the many methods out there that don't take 150 people with you.

    My understanding that depression among pilots is common (long hours, crappy pay, high stress and time away from family is a recipe for depression) but the second they seek help for it, they'd fail a medical exam and won't be allowed to fly. So naturally, they don't seek help and eventually you end up with this. There needs to be a way for pilots to get the help they need without losing their jobs. Hopefully we can learn something from this crash like we do with others.
     
  3. Huntn thread starter Suspended

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #3
    I have not studied up on rates of depression among pilots as compared to other professions. I flew for 37 years and never rubbed elbows with anyone who was outwardly depressed although I did see some cases of alcohol abuse. Not to imply there were no depressed pilots, or unhappy pilots. I met people who were unhappy, or disgruntled for a variety of common "life" reasons, but they could still function professionally. It only becomes an issue when negative feelings interfere with your ability to do your job. If you were having "personal" issues, whatever they are, you could take sick leave to deal with it.
     
  4. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Location:
    having a drink at Milliways
    #4
    honestly, i have a hard time seeing this as 'suicide'
    it was cold-blooded mass murder by one sick cowardly bastard.

    i think everyone should have the right to terminate their own life, if they so desire, but there are plenty of ways to do it without murdering hundreds of people (or even one).
     
  5. Huntn thread starter Suspended

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #5
    If the pilot was Islamic, or if there was a political agenda evident, it would be labeled a terrorist event. If it's depression, it's mental illness, which illustrates how significant such a malady can be. However, I'm not defending this person or saying you don't have a right to feel incensed.

    You can despise someone who is "crazy" for their heinous deed, but can you hold them accountable? This is a philosophical question. That's the basis for an "innocent by way of insanity" plea in court. It's recognized in our legal system.
     
  6. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stuck in the middle with you
    #6
    I've never seen any specific study examining depression rates of pilots, but there is a sad but true joke about a condition called AIDS - aviation induced divorce syndrome.

    A few years ago the FAA finally started allowing a very short list of antidepressants (I think four SSRIs). When they implemented the change, they had a period of amnesty where any pilot already taking one of the drugs could keep flying so long as they provided the proper documentation. Unfortunately I believe they require a pilot who starts taking the medication to sit out for at least six months.

    My hunch is that this may not have happened had another body been in the cockpit, but there have been situations in the past where a crew member attacked the others: Fedex Flight 705 about 20 years ago.
     
  7. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Location:
    having a drink at Milliways
    #7
    to some extent, anyone who commits a homicide is 'crazy', as it is not part of 'normality' to murder someone or commit a number of other crimes. yet, we do held people accountable for their acts.
    serial killers and muss murderers are most definitively 'crazy', but no one thinks they should not be held accountable once they are caught.

    the insanity defense rarely works because the 'level' of insanity needed is very high. this guy wasn't 'crazy' enough for it to be obvious to anyone around him, and even if he was depressed, there are ways to deal with it which do not encompass mass murder.
    a lot of people are depressed, but typically do not kill others as a consequence. even when they are so depressed as to contemplate -or actually commit- suicide, it rarely involves others.

    when it does, they should be considered murderers first, and suicides second.
     
  8. Huntn, Mar 27, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015

    Huntn thread starter Suspended

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #8
    I need to clarify a previous statement. I'd counter that everyone ideally is held accountable for their actions, but the level of accountability is effected by the percieved mental state of the individual and the philosophy of the legal system that oversees the prosecution. My impression is that the concern about insanity/mental illness in regards to an individual's actions has liberal roots, while those most concerned with punishment, while minimizing/dismissing the reasons or lack of reasons for a crime has conservative roots. In the latter, a crime requires a set punishment and villification, not exemptions and/or understanding of the "why" behind an act. BTW, I'm not implying this is how you feel.

    For this case, there can't be punishment, just a philosophical discussion about how someone who commits such a crime should be regarded.
     
  9. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #9
    I don't like, generally, to make too many judgements until more facts are known. But in this case, based on the information that has been released, it is hard to conceive of any set of circumstances other than a deliberate act on the part of the Germanwings co-pilot for this crash.

    Putting the plane into a steep descent required several deliberate turns of a knob on the autopilot. And that over-riding the cockpit door lock meant that the co-pilot consciously reset the system to prevent the pilot from using the external keypad. This wasn't then, the case of a previously healthy 27 year old passing out and slumping against the control yoke. Unless and until someone comes up with evidence to the contrary, or at least a good alternate theory, I think we have to assume it was a deliberate act.

    Some general observations:

    If this co-pilot had any connection to Islam, or to an Arab (or African) or middle-eastern country - then I think the first words out of both the media and the various governments of the US and Europe would be: Terrorism. The fact that he was a fair-haired German protestant apparently raises the bar for that particular charge to be laid. We ought to think about that.

    I do think it likely that European and other airlines are going to immediately institute the "2 person" cockpit rule. It seems like a minor additional burden, one that cabin staff will happily take on. And something would make a repeat of this much, much harder.

    Aircraft designers have a bit of a quandary when it comes to technology. It may be, theoretically, possible for them to institute a system where it was possible for air traffic controllers to remotely take control of an aircraft under certain circumstances (ie. if they receive a credible report that suggests bad actors have taken control of a plane and its motions appear widely incompatible with its flight plan.) However I suspect pilots in general would be wary of ceding too much control to anybody outside the cockpit.

    I'm certain that investigators will go through this co-pilot's life with a fine-tooth comb, hoping for some clue as to what might have prompted such a craven act. But I think we need to accept we may never know exactly what drove him to do such a dreadful thing. The human mind is a mysterious - and at times terrible - thing.
     
  10. Huntn, Mar 27, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015

    Huntn thread starter Suspended

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #10
    The 2 person rule is a minor welcome burden that has been in practise for over a decade in the States.

    Usually such a political act needs some statement to accompany it to have any meaning or it's wasted effort. Otherwise, it will be regarded as a mental issue. And if it's a mental issue, such terms as "craven" or "cowardly" really have no meaning. Despite our emotions as a result of such an event, the words "deranged" or "psychotic" would be more applicable, imo.

    As far as remote control, that technology exists, but my impression would require extensive technical rework of current airplanes to implement this and it's unlikey it would ever be implemented, because that could in itself provide another security/safety concern if there is a glitch in such a system, or shudder, a hostile entity takes over the plane and pilots in the aircraft are powerless to take back control. Besides we all ready have a "what's the plane doing now?" mentality... ;)
     
  11. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    #11
    Psychiatrists have been telling us for decades that a far larger percentage of us will experience such episodes in our lifetimes, or even, in the course of one year, than we would like to believe.

    That is one reason why I have always preferred the 2 person rule and other rules like it.

    The argument against it is cost, particularly on short flights like this one was. But, I would always argue in favor of trains over planes for short distances anyway.
     
  12. Huntn thread starter Suspended

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #12
    FYI, crew member staffing is dictated by how many seats an aircraft has. The 2 person rule does not require an extra crew member. The only cost of the 2 person rule, even on short flights is that of customer service because a flight attendant has to drop whatever customer service they are providing and go sit in the flight deck while one of the pilots takes a toilet break.
     
  13. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Location:
    having a drink at Milliways
    #13
    i mostly agree with what you are saying, and I agree that mental status is important and should be a component on the evaluation of any crime.

    but even if you accept that some sort of criminal/extreme actions are always associated to some level of 'crazy', which i have no problem with, it doesn't mean that absolves the perpetrator from any or some of their actions.

    in this specific case, the events (at least based on how they transpire) required a complex, deliberate, high functioning set of actions, which i find hard to align with the level of insanity that would (in my book) exonerate the guy to any significant extent.

    as you said, there is no punishment to be dished out, or therapy to be provided. if there was, i would agree that a psychiatric evaluation and assistance would be a necessity.
    but even it there was, and the guy was indeed considered 'crazy' (which i doubt, but obviously i don't have all the facts), he would still be a crazy murderer of 149 people, not a crazy suicider who accidentally caused the death of 149 people.

    what i object to is the characterization of this as a suicide with 149 lives of collateral damage (and the hundreds of associated lives ruined), rather than the mass murder that it is
     
  14. Huntn thread starter Suspended

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #14
    It boils down to individual perception of the motivation. What primarily caused this action, the intent to kill one's self, murder 150 people, being so angry that I want 150 innocent people to suffer along with me, or all of the above?

    I can't pretend there was any rational thought going on. I mean from the perps perspective, if this is a solution for me, an improvement, there has to be some lack of empathy for other people who may not share my desire to die, or its malice- I want to inflict as much pain as I am experiencing on others. It's sick, horrendous and sad simultaneously. Human beings can be so messed up. :(
     
  15. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2006
    Location:
    Somewhere
    #15
    While I agree with you that if he had been known to be muslim there would have been cries of terrorism, have they actually announced that he was a protestant? All the articles that I've seen say that his religion hasn't been made known, so he could just as easily be an Atheist, Muslim convert, or any other religion.

    ----------

    I'm guessing him trying to kill himself and cover it up as an accident so his family wouldn't know, and would possibly get life insurance. He just wasn't thinking about the fact that when they find the wreckage it'll be easy enough for them to find out that it was intentional. I'm guessing something similar happened to MH370 just with the pilot realizing that if he wanted it to work he had to get the plane somewhere it wouldn't be found.
     
  16. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Location:
    having a drink at Milliways
    #16
    sure, but in this case, even if his primary drive was suicide (we'll never know), he had the certainty he was going to kill 149 people, ruin hundreds of people's lives, waste tens of millions of dollars.
    he set in motion a series of event for which he knew other people would suffer.

    this is not like he decided to kill himself with gas, and this causes an unplanned explosion that kills other people by accident. he designed his actions in a way that other people would die.
    that to me trumps his personal motivations and makes this first and foremost, a murder.
     
  17. Huntn thread starter Suspended

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #17
    I accept your perspective. I'm still thinking about it. ;)
     
  18. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Always a day away
    #18
    If the reports are true, I don't see this as either murder/suicide, or terrorism, or even mental illness. I just see it as mass murder.

    The guy knew what he was doing, and he knew it was wrong - otherwise, he would have tried to do it while the other pilot was there with him (after all, if he didn't believe that crashing the plane was wrong, then why would the other pilot stop him, right?), or would never have locked him out of the cockpit.
     
  19. Huntn thread starter Suspended

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #19
    Insurance would have to be considered as a motivation. I'm still considering that this individual could have been so weighed down, he could have been in such a mental state as to no longer consider how his action impacted the passengers. As if surrounded by a fog. We need a psychiatrist. ;)
     
  20. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
  21. Gutwrench macrumors 65816

    Gutwrench

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    #21
    I'm no mental health authority but I have trouble focusing on pilot depression as the cause for this. What motivates a person to commit suicide or a murder suicide are quite different. In this case we are talking about mass murder suicide. I think this is less about depression and more about some other undisclosed or yet undiscovered factor.
     
  22. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    Location:
    República Cascadia
    #22
    Latest reports are making the pilot sound like a psychological basket case. If true, he should have been grounded.
     
  23. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    #23
    This story seems to indicate the co-pilot was keeping his condition secret from his employers.
     
  24. Merkava_4 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    Location:
    California
    #24
    I don't think this was a case of murder at all. If the co-pilot had been given the opportunity to crash the plane with just himself on board, he would have gladly taken that opportunity. I think this is a case where an individual had a preferred method of suicide and it just so happened that 150 people were on board along for the ride. The co-pilot probably figured all those people were eventually going to die anyway.
     
  25. mudslag macrumors regular

    mudslag

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2010
    #25

    At this point we can only speculate what was going on in his mind based on what little info has come out about him. But as far as anyone knows, if someone is in the state at which they are contemplating suicide they aren't going to be right in the head from the start. The idea of committing mass murder while attempting to suicide might not really thought out enough to grasp the action fully.

    ----------


    What a silly conclusion.
     

Share This Page