At least 292 American pilots have attempted suicide in the past three years.
Another fifteen U.S. pilots have been diagnosed with, or been treated for, schizophrenia.
The shock figures have been revealed by the Boston Herald, quoting figures from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The news follows a serious incident at Boston's Logan International Airport in May when a distraught JetBlue pilot threatened to “harm himself in spectacular fashion” an hour before takeoff.
The Herald's Jessica Heslam's review of FAA medical records for 2008, 2009 and 2010, found that 2,700 pilots have been treated for alcohol abuse, and that nearly half of these have been diagnosed as alcoholics.
A similar number, 1,377 pilots, were found to be abusing drugs, while another ninety four were diagnosed as being drug-dependent.
23 pilots have been treated or diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, while another eighty have suffered major affective disorders, including bipolar disorder, and another two have been diagnosed with paranoia.
The Boston Herald article said the FAA was unable to confirm what number, if any, of the affected pilots had been grounded.
More than half-a-million pilots are certified medically fit to fly in the United States. “The FAA is committed to making sure our nation’s commercial and general aviation pilots are medically fit to fly,” FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown was quoted by the Boston Herald as saying. “We have rigorous medical standards and will not issue medical certificates if the pilot has a condition that would create an unsafe situation for the pilot or passengers.”
Pilots are required to undergo medical evaluations every year. Once they turn forty they are subjected to bi-annual tests.
If a pilot is determined to be an alocholic, he or she is disqualified from flying, and must go through an “extensive” medical re-certification process and post-rehabilitation follow-up program before they are recertified to fly, according to the FAA.