Bryan Arthur Griffin was a pilot with Qantas until 1982 when he resigned with severe obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and depression.
Evidence tendered as part of a worker's compensation claim showed that several times between 1979 and 1982 he struggled to resist an overwhelming urge to switch off his plane's engines. Mr Griffin said in the commission that his condition was made worse by continuing to work for the airline. His claim was upheld.
The Workers Compensation Commission heard that while running through an emergency procedure on a flight to Singapore, Mr Griffin's hand ''involuntarily moved towards the start levers''. He was forced to ''immobilise his left arm in order not to act on the compulsion''.
''He left the flight deck and, once he felt calm enough, returned to his seat.''
After informing his colleagues of these urges, Mr Griffin was examined by several doctors but ultimately declared fit to fly.
But the commission heard that Mr Griffin's disorder worsened over the ensuing months, including an urge to scream and cry, ignoring instructions, repeatedly missing radio and altitude calls, and repeated urges to crash the aircraft.
Mr Griffin saw and was treated by numerous doctors and psychiatrists and given extended leave to recuperate, but again allowed to return to the cockpit. Several times he expressed the opinion that he was fit to fly.
A report from Mr Griffin's psychiatrist said Qantas had failed to fully understand Mr Griffin's serious psychiatric problem or to consider ''the danger which you brought to passengers flying with you and the public generally, should you have crashed an aircraft".
The report said Mr Griffin should have been medically retired at the time of his acute problems. Qantas declined to comment on the evidence when contacted yesterday, saying only it was ''considering our options in terms of appealing this decision''.
The presidential member of the commission who heard the claim, Bill Roche, found Mr Griffin's condition had been exacerbated by continuing to work for Qantas. He ordered the airline to pay compensation for loss of earnings, medical expenses and legal costs.
''The evidence is overwhelmingly to the effect that Mr Griffin's obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety spectrum symptoms deteriorated between November 1979 and November 1981 and that that deterioration occurred because he continued to perform flying duties for Qantas.''
Qantas was ordered to pay him about $160,000 plus medical and legal costs.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald