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MDs reminded to report unfit flight crew

Canadian physicians are being reminded of their responsibilities under the Aeronautics Act to report pilots or other aircrew who they feel may be a hazard to aviation safety.

The caution comes following the crash of a Germanwings plane in the French Alps in March 2015 in which 150 people were killed as the result of the deliberate actions of the co-pilot.

In a letter from Transport Canada’s Civil Aviation Branch last month, Dr. David Salisbury, the director of medicine, stated “the department would like (to) take the opportunity to reiterate the mandatory obligations of physicians in Canada … to report any conditions, diseases or treatments that may be incompatible with holding a pilot licence.”

Under section 6.5 of the Aeronautics Act, physicians and optometrists are obliged to report patients who they have reasonable grounds to believe have a medical or optometric condition “that is likely to constitute a hazard to aviation safety.”

The letter goes on to explain that each report made to the civil aviation medicine branch will be investigated, and a determination made of the medical fitness of the individual involved.

Please rest assured that such reports are viewed by fellow physicians and are treated with the same professional standards of care and regard for privacy as any other interaction in health care.”

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