SYDNEY - A Qantas pilot who had repeated urges to crash his planes was allowed to continue working for three years after doctors declared him fit to fly.

Bryan Griffin was employed by the airline from 1966 to 1982, when he retired with anxiety, depression and severe obsessive compulsive disorder.

He told an industrial compensation tribunal this week that his problems were exacerbated by continuing to work.

The tribunal heard that Griffin had an overwhelming desire to switch off his plane's engines several times between 1979 and 1982.

During a flight from Perth to Singapore, he said, his left hand involuntarily moved towards the start levers.

He had to "struggle with the uncontrollable limb as though it wasn't mine", and could restrain it only by placing it under his seatbelt.

He left the flight deck and smoked several cigarettes, after which his "pain and terror dissipated".

He told colleagues what had happened, and was examined and treated by several doctors who ultimately pronounced him fit to fly.

In a statement to the tribunal, Griffin said he continued having problems, including urges to scream and cry.

He also ignored instructions, and repeatedly missed radio and altitude calls.

On a flight from Singapore to Sydney, he felt his hand "being abused by the uncontrollable pull of the start levers".

The commissioner, Derek Minus, agreed Qantas had failed to understand fully Griffin's serious psychiatric problems, or to consider "the danger which you brought to passengers flying with you, and the public generally, should you have crashed an aircraft".

He awarded the former pilot A$160,000 ($208,000) for loss of earnings, medical expenses and legal costs.

A Qantas official said the airline was considering an appeal.