Germanwings crash – employee burnout to blame?

by |
The Germanwings co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing a plane with 150 people on board had previously confessed to “burnout” according to German media.

The tragic disaster, which claimed the lives of everyone on board, highlights how underestimating the importance of employee mental health can have catastrophic effects.

Lufthansa, the operator of the low-cost Germanwings airline, revealed Andreas Guenter Lubitz had taken a break during his training but was considered "100 per cent fit and ready to fly."

However, the mother of one of Lubitz’s former classmates told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine that Lubitz had confessed to her daughter that his “break” was actually due to "a burnout, a depression."

Representatives for the airline insist Lubitz had been thoroughly tested and cleared before being allowed back behind the controls but questions are now being raised about how effective the airline’s employee mental health protocol is.

The news comes just hours after Canadian airlines were instructed to keep two crew members in the cockpit at all times. 
  • anonymous on 2015-03-27 10:12:01 AM

    This is WAY too fast to headline an article about blame on something like that. Seems improbable to link the two without very careful analysis either. This event involved the death of so many that could be seen and has been written by many not as suicide only, but in some combination of mass murder. We do not know what this person's mental health was or any other possible factors and whether or not he said he was burned out falls way too short of any link to understand something likely so complex. Burnout may be what he said or felt... but was workload a factor AT all? That cannot be determined just because of a commonplace statement. Pilots have specific hours to log. In the field of HR that should promote objectivity I will need a lot more facts and information before jumping to conclusions about blame.

  • Larry Dawson on 2015-03-27 11:07:53 AM

    Some statisticians report that as high as 50% of adults have suffered depressive symptoms.The cost to employers to screen for such symptoms will be enormous. On the other hand, employers may begin to demand access to health records to eliminate candidates who have a history of depression in order to keep employees inclined towards depressive disorders out of the workforce, and not just airlines - any employer, but especially positions with a security component, or access to information, etc. Perhaps even genetic screening, to determine if a precondition or probability exists?

HRM Online forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions