Coronavirus & Business Aviation
Effective March 13, the United States imposed a travel ban in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Although there has been a significant rise in the private charter requests from people to repatriate themselves, it cannot be compared to the loss of requests from the customers who won't fly during the ban. The evolving situation has high-lighted the need for proper resources and guidance to assist in planning aviation operations, both domestic and international.
The Center for Disease Control & Prevention recommends updating and reviewing protection policies and training operators on managing sick travelers on board. The airline operators are recommended to follow contingency measures for aircraft crew to manage a sick traveler, protect themselves and passengers, and take after flight action.
Practice regular hand-washing - Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds after touching potentially contaminated surfaces, body fluids, after using the restroom, before serving or preparing food/beverages, and after sneezing or coughing. Use alcohol-based sanitizers in case there is no soap and water.
Identify sick travelers with symptoms including high fever (100.4 °or higher), difficulty breathing, coughing, headache, airsickness, and looking extremely ill or a traveler who had these symptoms in the last 48 hours.
Minimize the contact of the sick person with other passengers and cabin crew (ideally 6 feet), and designate a special crew member to serve the patient.
Before taking care of the sick traveler, use protective equipment in Universal Precaution Kit that includes eye protection, face mask, disposable gloves, and gown to cover. Ensure sufficient supply of personal protective equipment on the flight.
Encourage the sick traveler to wear a face mask, if available, and if the sick person is comfortable wearing it. If not, ask him/her to cover their nose and mouth with tissues while sneezing and coughing.
Conduct after flight cleaning by disinfecting the flight as per the aircraft protocol.
Notify the health officials in the airport about the sick person for further screening and reporting to the state health authorities.
If the crew member contracts the symptoms of the virus on the flight or afterward, they should go off duty as soon as possible and follow the same procedure as outlined for the sick passenger. They should not report to work and should quarantine themselves at home until fully recovered. They should be encouraged to contact their nearest hospital for testing.
Most importantly, the business aviation industry needs to remain vigilant and report the situation proactively to help reduce the spread of the virus on a larger scale.
The persistence and magnitude of the impact of this virus is highly uncertain, and the situation still remains fluid. To protect yourself, be up-to-date, and follow the standard protocols to save yourself and others from novel coronavirus!
- Infection control measures for aircraft crew: Reference taken from: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/air/managing-sick-travelers/commercial-aircraft/infection-control-cabin-crew.html