However, several studies have shown that it is also one of the most stressful; time changes, different sleep environments and operational demands can take its toll, especially if they are combined with family, financial or other personal problems.
The need to maintain aviation safety while addressing the pilot's mental well-being led the European authorities to publish the standard called ANNEX III to ED Decision 2018/012 / R CAT.GEN.MPA.215 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1042 of the Commission of July 23, 2018 and of the respective AMCs and GMs.
The real turning point was the tragedy of German wings flight 9525 in March 2015. This fact rocked the airline industry worldwide, generating great public concern about the mental health status of airline pilots.
The accident investigation committee offered recommendations that include the use of pilot assistance programs, emphasizing that pilots would benefit from a "confidential, non-stigmatized and safe environment." The final report stated that when a culture of mutual trust and cooperation is created, pilots are less likely to hide disorders and diseases, being more likely to seek help for mental health problems.
This Pilot Support Program, PAPI, aims to seek the psychological well-being of the flight crew by detecting, referring, treating and monitoring any problem that could affect their flight capacity for the benefit of safety, being key to the Program success early detection. Although the general objective is to carry out a safe operation, it is also pursued with this Program to keep the flight crew safely active or to return to their activity as soon as possible.
The report also noted: "Early identification of mental fitness problems leads to better results."
It is important to remember that there is a wide range of mental health problems that can affect your thinking, mood and behavior. While there may be serious disorders or illnesses for some people, it is not uncommon to face an isolated incident that is temporarily distressing or painful. But these incidents also deserve attention.
Therefore, it was determined that the best way for pilots to seek help is through a pilot-managed program.
This program directs the affected person in the most appropriate direction in a friendly and familiar environment.
Eliminating barriers that could avoid or discourage airline pilots to seek help when they need it is an essential step for the PAPI to function. Knowing that you can call a fellow pilot and speak confidentially and without fear of reprisals should encourage those affected to make the most of this resource.