Sample Essay on GermanWings Crash and Mental Illness among Pilots


On March 24th, GermanWings reported a passenger jet crash tragedy.  Research indicates the crash tragedy was attributed to mental illness and lack of corporate responsibility to prevent and reduce such risks. Corporate responsibility should ensure employees are healthy physically, mentally, and psychologically. This guarantees the employer that employees are skilled, qualified, experienced, and in a capacity to meet and fulfill the responsibilities of the job position. As a result, the corporate world within the aviation industry should ensure employees are of sound mentally and psychologically. Consequently, incidences such as that witnessed on March 24th during which a co-pilot intentionally crashed a low cost GermanWings passenger jet can be prevented and reduced. This research essay therefore aims to affirm that, GermanWings crashes are attributed to mental illnesses. It will provide various historical incidences during which a pilot or co-pilot either intentionally or unintentionally crashed a GermanWings airplane due to mental illness (Mary, 2015).


Mental health refers to the ability and skills among human beings to control their emotional, social, and psychological well-being. This is because mental health enables human beings to think, act and feel hence, determine the emotions and actions to undertake in order to handle different life situations. These situations include stress, happiness, anxiety, and curiosity among others. Human beings that are mentally healthy and stable are able to control their emotional needs. For example, they are able to control anger, happiness, and anxiety based on social setting. Thus, a mentally healthy individual cannot cause chaos during corporate meetings due to elevated stress levels as they understand corporate code of ethics. Conversely, they cannot curse or break things in anger to showcase happiness. This is because their mental health is stable enabling them to think, adjust their mood, feelings, and emotions in order to engage in appropriate behavioral and biological activities (USDHHS, 2010).

Symptoms of Mental Illnesses

Mental health controls and manages an individual’s behavioral, biological, and overall life experiences. There is however various factors that cause mental illness such as brain trauma, genetic composition, and psychological abuse among others. Mental illness can be characterized with various symptoms. For example, persons with mental illness suffer from unstable levels of appetite and sleeping patterns as well as low energy to engage in any form of activity. They also tend to pull away embracing social disintegration especially when feeling hopeless, numb, worthless, or under the influence of drugs especially illegal substances. Consequently, they can engage in violent actions such as being involved in fights regularly, yelling, and harming others or themselves. This is accompanied by severe mood swings, loss of memory, imagining and hearing strange voices, and persistently thinking of ways to harm or cause destruction. Ultimately, their abilities to engage in day-to-day activities such as reporting to work and/or school are labored. This is because they are unable to realize their full potential and cope with the high levels of stress and anxiety in order to work productively and make a meaningful and beneficial contributions (USDHHS, 2010).

Mental Illness within the German Aviation Industry

The aviation industry allied to GermanWings experienced a tragic plane crash that led to loss of one hundred and fifty lives. The company published reports confirming the pilot flying the plane intentionally crashed the plane due to a mental illness. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International published a report in March 2015 asserting that, GermanWings passenger plane Flight 9525 was under the control of a co-pilot known as Andreas Lubitz before it crashed. Flight 9525 was therefore purposely crashed into French Alps by a mentally unstable individual who was allowed and tasked by the corporate board to fly the plane risking the victims’ lives. Thus, the pilot and one hundred and forty nine persons on board lost their lives as the corporate sector allowed an individual who had been under psychiatric care to decide their fate (CCHRI, 2015).

This affirms corporate boards within the aviation industry are not engaging in rigorous mental checkups with the pilots. The checkups should be conducted regularly for various reasons. Foremost, they provide pilots undergoing personal issues likely to adversely influence their mental capacity to be identified. Consequently, the corporate board should provide such pilots with an opportunity to seek psychological or psychiatric help. The regular checkups are also a confirmation that the aviation industry appreciates and values pilots and co-pilots as supportive human resources. This is a motivating as pilots can dedicate their skills, abilities, and talents in ensuring the aviation industry is safe, growing, and expanding. More importantly, mental checkups improve security within the aviation industry. This is because mentally healthy and stable pilots will be tasked safeguard the lives of all the passengers in board. The GermanWings however has relaxed in undertaking the regular mental checkups (Mary, 2015).

As a result, the corporate board failed to acknowledge Andreas Lubitz was still under medication According to the report released by Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, the co-pilot was flying Flight 9525 under the influence of drugs mainly antidepressants. Based on a medical research, the side effects caused by antidepressants include depersonalization, psychosis, homicidal thoughts, and maniac behaviors. Andreas Lubitz had been seeking psychiatric help for a period exceeding eighteen months. This proves he had been experiencing quite serious mental instability in order to seek help for such a long period of time. Thus, the corporate board governing GermanWings flights should not have allowed Lubitz to either board or fly the passenger jet. Consequently, the one hundred and fifty innocent victims on board would neither have been put on the harm way or lost their lives prematurely (CCHRI, 2015).

Michael Blanding also authored an article in order to emphasize that GermanWings ought to pay more attention towards employees’ mental health. His action was prompted by the same GermanWings tragedy experienced on March 24th. He therefore authored the article to emphasize that the issue allied to mental health among pilots should not be ignored. He authored the article with believe that, corporate boards within the aviation industry ought to pay attention to employees mental health. According to reports released by Reuters, the March tragedy was attributed to the pilot being under the influence of Zoloft. The drug was retrieved after toxicology tests further affirming Andreas Lubitz was neither mentally healthy nor stable. National Transportation Safety Board published reports confirming the pilot was suffering from a mental illness. The officials asserted that, the pilot had displayed behavioral patterns that were not professional. More so, the cockpit voice recording documentation recorded the pilot singing a song affirming as he was planning to crash. According to the records, he was singing ‘Save my life, I’m going down for the last time’ just before the flight crashed (Michael, 2015).

‘Bild’ is a German newspaper that further confirmed the pilot had been receiving psychiatric help. The newspaper claimed the pilot sought the help after experiencing a serious depressive episode. Lufthansa is a parent company with GermanWings. It also confirmed the pilot had been diagnosed with severe depressive episode in 2009. Thus, the corporate board should have provided the pilot with sufficient time to seek treatment before resuming his piloting duties. More so, the corporate board should have conducted through medical checkups in order to evaluate and analyze the pilot’s mental capacity and health before sending him back on duty (Nicholas & Nicola, 2015).

Further investigations based on the evidence collected from the pilot’s apartment confirmed he was a mentally ill individual. He had torn a doctor’s recommendation note requesting him to take time off work. The doctor’s note had actually signed that the pilot should not have been working on the actual day of crash. The medical reports also affirmed the pilot had been suffering from mental illness for a longer period than the records submitted to his employer. This is because they provided proof that the pilot had been receiving suitable medical help due to a mental illness even a fortnight before the crash. Based on the reports provided after the thorough investigations affirming the pilot was mentally ill, various recommendations have been provided (Nicholas & Nicola, 2015).

Foremost, it has been recommended that pilots retire at an earlier age. The GermanWings crash was caused by a twenty eight pilot. He was going through personal issues including relationship wrangles with his girlfriend. However, retiring at the age of twenty eight years old is not appropriate. Human beings often regard such an age as their prime time to meet and fulfill their life purpose. For example, they work hard in order to ensure they are able to start and provide for their own family without relying on family members. Thus, forcing a pilot to retire at such an early age can actually lead to mental instability. This is because it denies them the opportunity to continue pursuing their career dream within the aviation industry. More so, early retirement leads to loss of a career. Thus, it can lead to socioeconomic instabilities, which enhance personal and professional issues the individual is going through (Melissa, Dan & Nicola, 2015).

The most appropriate recommendation should therefore involve the corporate boards within the aviation industry conducting regular medical checkups. All employees including pilots and the whole cabin crew ought to undergo regular physical and psychological checkups. This is because a mentally ill person in a plane can cause panic, which can also lead to a crash. Thus, the aviation industry should ensure the planes are being controlled and managed by physically and mentally stable individuals with technical and social skills to handle any issues likely to arise during the flight (Mary, 2015).

Consequently, pilots should not be overworked. The number of hours a pilot is required to fly a plane should be minimized. This provides the pilot with sufficient time to engage in other social activities enhancing physical and mental health. For example, pilots should be provided with sufficient time to spend time with family and friends. This is crucial as it reduces family wrangles ensuring pilots maintain peaceful, loving and unified family units supporting their careers. Pilots should also be encouraged to engage in physical activities such as running, swimming, and skiing during their free time. This rejuvenates their mental capacity by easing stress and anxiety levels. Thus, stable family units and good physical and mental health can prevent aviation employees especially pilots from developing a mental disorder. Ultimately, they are empowered and motivated to meet and fulfill their roles and responsibilities effectively and efficiently. Consequently, plane crashes resulting to massive deaths can be reduced and prevented (Patrick, 2015).


It is evident mental illness caused the GermanWings plane crash. It is also crucial noting all mental disorders are not severe as they can be managed and treated. Patients within the aviation industry should therefore undergo medical assessments keenly and regularly before resuming work guarantying safety of the individual as well as family members, colleagues, and friends. More importantly, they should not be discriminated or isolated from the society as this enhances their anger leading to drug and substance abuse. The combination encourages the patient to engage in unimaginable acts including crashing a passenger plane. Thus, pilots should undergo regular and rigorous mental checkups while providing corporate board with complete medical reports (CCHRI, 2015).

Consequently, corporate board should be supportive ensuring such pilots suffering from a mental illness receive treatment as the disorder can be managed and treated. The corporate board should avoid asking or forcing pilots to take either temporary or permanent leave of absence. More so, pilots should not be forced to retire at an earlier age. Instead, corporate boards ought to provide pilots with sufficient time to seek and receive treatment. Consequently, they can acquire skills and medication to manage symptoms associated with mental illness before gaining full recovery and resuming back to work. Some individual however may fail to gain full recovery. In such a case, such individuals should not be tasked with the duties and responsibilities of a pilot. Instead, they should either be tasked with duties they can handle or requested to retire early sustaining safeties.


Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHRI). (2015). GermanWings Co-pilot Who Purposefully Crashed Plane Had Spent 18 Months In Psychiatric Treatment. Citizens Commission on Human Rights International Newsletter.

Michael, B. (2015). After GermanWings, More Attention Needed on Employee Mental Health. Harvard Business School Working Knowledge.

Patrick, S. (2015). The GermanWings Disaster: From Network News to the New Yorker, the Conversation Spins Out of Control. Cockpit Confidential.

Mary, G. (2015).The GermanWings Tragedy. Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Melissa, E., Dan, B., & Nicola, C. (2015). Co-Pilot in GermanWings Crash Hid Mental Illness From Employer, Authorities Say. The New York Times.

Nicholas, K., & Nicola, C. (2015). GermanWings Crash Exposes History of Denial on Risk of Pilot Suicide. The New York Times.

United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). (2010).What is Mental Health? Myths and Facts. United States Department of Health and Human Services Report.