Huntsville pilot talks American commercial airline health rules

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - After Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz was reported to have a ripped up medical note in his residence, pointing to possibly hiding a medical condition, WHNT News 19 wanted to learn more about health as it pertains to pilots.

"Pilots are human beings like everyone else. We face the same stress and pressures, divorce, problems at home," said Roger Nunamann.

He is a commercial pilot, as well as the owner of the Madison County Shuttle. So he knows first hand what pilots go through, as well as what safety measure are required to transport others.

Whether it's a physical issue or a psychological one, United State commercial pilots are required to say something.

"By not saying anything you are certifying that you are fit to fly," he added.

Nunamann says European pilots have to go through much more regulation to fly, especially with Lufthansa, the company that owns Germanwings.

"I'm not aware of any airline in the US that has a level of aptitude and psychological screening that comes anywhere close to what Lufthansa does," Nunamann said, explaining the extensive days of testing that the company does before a pilot ever takes to the cockpit.

Meanwhile, many airlines in the states don't do psychological screenings at all, just physicals and random drug tests.

"[Before each flight] they give you a checklist, are you suffering from depression, hallucinations, that sore of thing, and you mark yes or no," Nunamann said. "If you're caught hiding a condition that would preclude you from flying a plane, you're guilty of a crime. It's very serious."

That assumption of honest and consideration roots from an almost intrinsic value of life.

"We're not only responsible for the people in the back, but we're also responsible for our own lives," he added. "We're not any safer flying a plane thats empty than we are flying a plane that's completely full."