Airline pilots’ mental health, flight safety and organizational support – a challenging mix

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter investigates airline pilots’ mental health, flight safety, and organizational support. Pilot mental health is a recognized phenomenon but has played only a marginal role in both aviation research and practice. This chapter adopts the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) definition of mental health, which emphasizes both wellbeing and work-related stress issues. Based on an integrative literature review, this study highlights three analytical research questions: 1) How does the research literature comprehend the airline pilot’s mental health issues or status (wellbeing and stress)? 2) What is the connection between a pilot’s mental health comprehension and propositions concerning threats to flight safety in the research literature? 3) In what ways does the research literature consider mental health support for pilots? The results are divided into three categories : 1) general pilot mental health issues, 2) pilot stressors, and 3) pilot depression and suicides. The literature review reveals that pilots’ mental health is a delicate matter. According to the review, pilots do not necessarily inform their employer if they are experiencing mental health challenges. The fear of being temporarily grounded or having their flying careers adversely affected are potential reasons for this reluctance. This is a common challenge in aviation safety. In conclusion, the chapter proposes that mental wellbeing and the absence of mental illness are essential to the safe performance of pilots’ and other safety-sensitive duties in aviation. Accordingly, mental health should be evaluated as part of the aeromedical assessment of pilots, with follow-ups extending for the entire career.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPositive Education and Work
Subtitle of host publicationLess Struggling, More Flourishing
EditorsSanna Hyvärinen, Tanja Äärelä, Satu Uusiautti
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781527576773
ISBN (Print)1-5275-7617-5, 978-1-5275-7617-9
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoEC publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Field of science

  • Psychology

Citation for this output