Business aircraft present ‘low risk of Covid-19 infection’


Image: Airbus

The risk of Covid-19 infection in business and commercial aircraft is low, Dr Simon May, MD/chief medical officer, Flightcare Global, told Corporate Jet Investor Town Hall delegates this week. The real concern amongst authorities, and why aviation has been impacted so greatly, is due to fears surrounding the transfer of infected people from region to region.

“All the available evidence suggests that the actual flying in the aircraft cabin is low risk for transmission. We haven’t seen large cluster cases like we have seen at weddings and in restaurants,” said Dr May.

“Why do we think its low risk? First, cabin airflow tends not to promote the spread of infectious diseases, the airflow tends to go from the roof-to-floor with very little forward, backward or lateral movement of the air. Air is recycled regularly and in larger aircraft that air can be filtered with a hospital-grade filter. If you then combine that with measures people have taken since the pandemic, such as social distancing on boarding, lack of interaction with crews, use of masks and then the enhanced cleaning of the aircraft.”

Private aviation’s infrastructure also helps to minimise the risk of infection. Dr May noted, social distancing is much more possible in suites and FBO’s private terminals, which are commonplace in the industry.

Looking at aviation as a whole, the real risk lies in the transfer of someone who may be harbouring the virus from one region to another, according to Dr May. That could be someone who is unaware they are infected, or someone who knowingly travels feeling unwell. “That’s what public health authorities are really worried about and that’s why aviation is in the state it’s in,” concluded Dr May.

Elsewhere, questions about crew education are being received more frequently by the team at Flightcare Global, remarked Dr May. Often crew have to travel back from a floating fleet via commercial airlines and may have to isolate upon return. This can create anxiety, making advice and information particularly important.

Meanwhile, you can listen to Dr May’s short presentation in Corporate Jet Investor’s Town Hall and the comments of other business aviation industry leaders here.