NTSB officials and panelists at a summit Wednesday on pilot mental health said they were optimistic the issue would be addressed by the aviation community. Speaking at the daylong meeting held by the NTSB in Washington, speakers pressed home the need to allow pilots with mental health issues safe ways to seek treatment for their illnesses.
Yesterday’s summit comes a day after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the creation of its new rulemaking committee focused on the same topic. Discussions during the summit highlighted the lack of trust pilots, controllers and other aviation professionals have regarding repercussions for seeking and reporting help for mental health-related issues.
As reported by The Hill, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said a “culture of silence” was affecting safety in the industry. In her opening remarks, Homendy noted, “No one … no one … should have to think twice about their job before seeking help. And yet, we’re here today because that’s not currently the case in U.S. aviation.”
NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg also spoke on the struggles he faced following the death of his son, who served in the military and died of PTSD, according to CNN. Landsberg said he self-grounded, though he did not report it to the FAA, and waited weeks until he felt ready to return to flying.
Meanwhile the FAA has acknowledged it is open to revising mental health policies, with its committee expected to provide recommendations by March 30, 2024.