Dr. Matthias Groppe

Matthias Groppe

VistaJet Mental Health Specialist

Aircrew Mental Health: The VistaJet Support Programme

This study was aimed at identifying the influence of the mental health support mode on the airline pilots’ usage behaviour of psychological interventions. Via an anonymous online survey, airline pilots of EASA member states and UK were asked to choose their preference of different support modes of mental health interventions in case of an arising wellbeing and psychological problem. The participants could choose between self-initiated support or support offered by the employer. Additionally, the participants were asked to rate their individual perception of various work related, physiological and private life related stressors with influence on mental wellbeing. Such knowledge was seen as a prerequisite to design the VistaJet Support Programme aimed at pilots also making use of the interventions and pilots having trust in the system.

Background of this study are numerous airplane accidents where problems with mental health of the pilots are suspected to be the cause of the airplane crash. In order to avoid such catastrophic consequences of mental health problems, the Directive (EC) 2018/1042 was launched for all EASA member states. Within this framework, all commercial air operators have to provide their pilots with mental health support, if necessary. A suitable support
programme had to be implemented by February 14th, 2021. For such support programme, different options are available to the commercial operators. However, the programme has to be non-punitive and must be provided to all air crew. The protection of the confidentiality is thereby a precondition.

A total of 186 pilots have participated in the anonymous online survey. Due to lack of trust, a significant number of pilots would not use a peer support system offered by the employer, but a self-initiated mode of seeking support. Within the physical stressors, noise was the most significant factor, while the rhythm of work was the most relevant work-related stressor. Private life events that collide with work were especially relevant among issues with pilot life interacting with work.

Pilot Conference
Day 2 – Wednesday 9th November 2022
Session 6 – 1115-1245