The European Society of Aerospace Medicine (ESAM), European Association for Aviation Psychology (EAAP) and European Cockpit Association (ECA) have agreed to adopt a joint approach for the assessment of the medical and mental fitness of pilots.

Their joint approach has endorsed a set of guidelines developed by the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA).

The joint approach is expected to strengthen aeromedical assessments of pilots, taking into account a pilot’s psychosocial stress, mental health, and the changing working environment. The organisations started a ‘Fly Safe, Fly Well’ project, which includes a set of guidelines based on directives given by AsMA.

ESAM, EAAP and ECA emphasised that professional pilots, aeromedical and aviation psychological specialists, airline managers and concerned authorities should emphasise the importance of safe pilot performance during their professional career.

The issue of pilots’ mental health gained more importance after the Germanwings flight was deliberately crashed by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz on 24 March.

Lubitz was co-piloting an Airbus A320-211 that crashed into the French Alps, killing all 149 people onboard.

Following the accident, the Federal Aviation Office of Germany said the medical certificate issued to Lubitz mentioned he had a medical condition but did not elaborate it, reported The New York Times.

"Any raising of such issues or request for assistance by the pilot should be taken seriously."

European Society of Aerospace Medicine president Kevin Herbert said: "As part of the ESAM ‘Fly Safe, Fly Well’ project, which seeks to strengthen the role of prevention in aeromedical assessments, particularly in the psychosocial aspects of a pilot’s health, we felt the need to work together with aviation psychologists and pilots.

"Together we will be publishing an information leaflet for pilots and aviation medical examiners, as what we think is an important step in enhancing the trust and co-operation between them.

"Another result is our joint endorsement of the Aerospace Medical Association’s mental health working group recommendations."

European Association for Aviation Psychology president Andre Droog said: "Health and mental fitness issues may arise during the career of a professional pilot.

"When happening, recognition and acceptance are the first steps in solving them.

"Any raising of such issues or request for assistance by the pilot should be taken seriously and be positively appreciated and reacted upon by the pilot’s environment, such as the airline management, the company’s occupational health service, peers, regulators and aeromedical examiners.

"Aviation psychologists can help in many regards to regain full mental fitness."