24th March, 10.41am was the date and time of this accident taking 150 lives. It is now almost 4 weeks later and the authorities in all relevant countries have accepted the fact that this accident was a deliberate act initiated by the 1st Officer or co-pilot.
In early attempts to find a reason for this act, they have revealed a history of mental instability was in this persons background. Some statistics. There are about 20,000 commercial aircraft in operation world wide. They carry over 3 billion passengers each year. There are approximately 130,000 pilots in employment in the various airlines.
The WHO estimates that 1 in 20 of the world population have, in some period of their lifetime, a serious mental illness. That is roughly 450 million people at current population levels. In raw terms it means 6,500 pilots would be exposed to this illness during their lifetime. Again in raw terms that is over a hundred a year.
So how do you identify this illness? It certainly seems to be a weak option to suggest pilots self report on this problem. If removal from a life of travel and high pay is the result I doubt that any pilot would willingly take this course of action. In the case of Flight 9525 it appears medical chits authorising the co-pilot sick-leave ended up in the rubbish bin.
The CEO of Turkish Airlines has suggested all pilots should be married. Pass on that one. Air Traffic Controllers have suggested that in the near future aircraft should have the capability of being controlled from the ground. The air pilots associations disagree, as one would expect. Conversely there is significant agreement that two people should be in the cabin at all times. Agreed.
So it's early days in this debate. The memorial service was held today. There have been several comments that statistically the accident rate for air travel is low and much lower than it used to be. That's true but statistics are unclear on the number of suicidal actions in the aviation industry. We know of, or suspect, the following in recent years. GermanWings 9525, Egypt Air 990, Silk Air 185, Mozambique 470, FedEx 705, PSA 1771. About 600 passengers and crew. There will have been other losses unidentified.
So comment to date has not changed my view that the simple options are two in the cabin and an emergency override door release activated by three holding two digits each of a six digit code. My only variation is that these codes can be held electronically by the persons selected and be activated remotely.