(Corrects name of newspaper in paragraph 2 to Frankfurter Allgemeine, not Frankfurt Allgemeine)
FRANKFURT, May 22 (Reuters) - Random checks of pilots’ psychological fitness could help reduce risks in the aviation sector, Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said in his first newspaper interview since the crash of a Germanwings plane in March.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Friday cited Spohr as saying surprise checks were a possible way to reduce uncertainty over whether pilots suffer from any mental health issues.
Voice and data recordings from the Germanwings flight on March 24 show co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit and set the plane on course to crash into the French Alps, killing all 150 on board.
Lubitz’s motives are still a mystery. But he had told officials at a Lufthansa training school in 2009 that he had gone through a period of severe depression, and investigators found he had hidden doctors’ notes signing him off work.
“Insights into the co-pilots motives could come out of a so-called psychological autopsy that will be done as part of prosecutors’ investigation now,” FAZ quoted Spohr as saying.
A spokesman for Lufthansa said Spohr aimed to propose random health checks to a task force of experts that Germany set up after the Germanwings crash.
The task force is to examine whether changes need to be made to medical procedures and the mechanisms allowing cockpit doors to be locked from the inside.
Spohr said one element of these considerations should also be whether aviation doctors should be allowed to breach doctor-patient confidentiality in exceptional cases, according to FAZ.
Under German law, employers do not have access to employees’ medical records and sick notes excusing a person from work do not give information on their medical condition.
Some politicians have called for a loosening of these rules in the wake of the Germanwings disaster. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Hugh Lawson)