European agency proposes tougher medical checks for pilots

BERLIN – The European Aviation Safety Agency is proposing tougher medical examinations for pilots, including better mental health assessments, in response to last year’s Germanwings crash.

Pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and slammed a plane into a mountainside in March 2015. All 150 people on board were killed.

Lubitz previously had suffered from depression, but authorities and his airline later deemed him fit to fly. They didn’t know his mental health troubles had returned.

The aviation agency recommended Tuesday strengthening pilots’ initial and subsequent medical examinations “by including drugs and alcohol screening, comprehensive mental health assessment, as well as improved follow-up in case of medical history of psychiatric conditions.”

The plan now goes to the European Union’s executive Commission, which is to draw up proposed rules later this year.