It’s one of many disconcerting things that passengers could hear as they’re stepping onto an airplane: unfortunately your pilot is feeling a little depressed today. Under old Federal Aviation Administration regulations pilots that were taking antidepressants were not allowed to fly, but on Monday some pilots on Prozac will be back behind the controls under a new policy. The initial concern was that older versions of antidepressants caused drowsiness—usually not a desirable condition in pilots—but that modern drugs don’t inflict sleepiness on many of its users. Regardless it was thought that many pilots lied about their use of antidepressants to avoid being grounded. All of which begs the question: would you rather be in a plane flown by a sleepy pilot or a depressed pilot?
Dr. Frederick Tilton, as the FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon
Patrick Smith, an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author. Patrick has visited more than 70 countries and always asks for a window seat.