COVID-19 Live Blog: March 20


Coronavirus Disease 2019 Rotator Graphic for (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Rosario "Charo" Gutierrez)

Coronavirus COVID-19 is continuing to hit many industries around the world, including business aviation. There does appear to be a spike in business jet travel as passengers rush to get back before borders close, but once borders are shut, aircraft are being grounded.

Please send any news or comments to [email protected] 

Main stories so far:

  • NBAA to host free Covid-19 guidance webinar. Click here to register
  • EBAA launches online Covid-19 resource centre
  • Textron Aviation will furlough most of its US-based staff for four weeks
  • The Farnborough Air Show has been cancelled


Licenses and Airworthiness Certificates Validity

During this period of restricted travel, the aviation industry needs to maintain or extend the validity of licenses and airworthiness review certificates.

The European Safety Aviation Agency (EASA) has issued a first version of an exemption template to competent authorities to support the EU Member States in a collective adoption of exemption measures.

The template proposes to extend the validity period of ratings, certificates and medical reports – as applicable for flight crews, cabin crews, instructors and examiners, maintenance staff, air traffic controllers, and aeromedical examiners.

EASA is currently working on a revised version of this extension template to include crew not operating for a Part-ORO operator, as well as an extension template for airworthiness review certificates.

The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) encourages its members to contact their respective Competent Authority to receive an update on the local implementation and procedures following the recommendation sent out by EASA to all Member States.

Click here to read more.



Elliott Aviation reassures customers on new safety precautions

Elliott Aviation, a family business running a chain of US fixed-base operators, is contacting clients to reassure them about its new measures designed to guard against the spread of the coronavirus or Covid-19.

The company’s President and CEO Greg Sahr told customers: “For the safety and well-being of our customers, employees, and our loved ones, we are ensuring that at Elliott Aviation we are doing our part by making critical and significant immediate adjustments to try to limit the spread of the Covid-19.”

The package of measures, introduced immediately, require each aircraft to have an extensive, documented cleaning and disinfecting procedure using chemicals that are both recommended by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and safe for aircraft surfaces.

Increased cleaning practices

Increased cleaning practices introduced by the business, headquartered in Moline Illinois, several weeks ago will continue. Particular attention is being paid to high traffic, high touch point areas.

All employees are required to sanitise their workstations regularly and work schedules have been adjusted to limit contact where possible. All travel to large group meetings such as conferences, trade shows and training sessions has been cancelled.

All employees are practising social distancing, wherever possible, to try to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet. Non-essential meetings have been cancelled and employees are encouraged to communicate via Skype in preference to face-to-face meetings.

Required to take their temperature daily

Additionally, all employees are required to take their temperature daily before reporting to work. Additional precautions apply if an employee has had close contact with someone who tests positive for Covid-19.

All visitors, except essential customers, partners, and vendors, are prohibited from visiting Elliott Aviation’s offices and facilities. Read more about the company’s modified working practices here.

Sahr concluded: “We are facing a very difficult challenge ahead as a society, and we will all need to adapt to change. From everything we are hearing and learning, we expect that it will take some time before we are through this and life gets back to normal. However, please know that we are doing everything we can to help ease the situation. Remember, this is all our responsibility and we are not isolated in this crisis.”


Elliott Aviation has introduced strict new cleaning measures and working procedures to guard against the spread of the Covid-19.



Aircraft values ‘set to fall by 25%’

Chris Miller, founder of asset-financier Shearwater Aero Capital and a qualified American Society of Appraisers appraiser, has been spending a lot of time trying to predict the effect of Covid-19 on business jet values. “They are clearly going to come down in the next few months,” says Miller. “Anyone who is out buying jets will be looking for great deals from distressed sellers. I would expect aircraft values to fall by more than 20% or 25% in the next month.”

– AW

How helicopter OEMs are affected by Covid-19

Helicopter manufacturers in Europe have been hit heavily by the coronavirus this week, whereas those in the US remain largely unaffected, according to company representatives speaking to Helicopter Investor.

The ‘Big Four’ manufacturers – Airbus, Leonardo, Bell and Sikorsky – delivered two very different reports of how the virus was affecting their business; depending on which side of the Atlantic they were based. Both Airbus and Leonardo had to pause production as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Conversely, the US-based Bell and Sikorsky reported business and usual.

You can read the full story on Corporate Jet Investor’s sister site Helicopter Investor.



Brazil declares state of emergency, Jordan announces lockdown

Brazil has become the latest country to declare a state of emergency, as coronavirus cases in the Latin American country reach 650. By declaring a state of emergency the government is able to free up extra funding in its fight against the virus.

Meanwhile, Jordan has become the latest country to announce a lockdown. The 24-hour lockdown will come into effect on Saturday morning.



The Farnborough Air Show has been cancelled

This year’s Farnborough Air Show has been cancelled. The air show organisers said in a statement on its website that it had taken the decision to cancel the show the interests of the health and safety of its exhibitors, visitors, contractors and staff.

Although the show is mainly focussed on civilian airliners and defence, several business aviation manufacturers have displayed aircraft at previous shows.

“We understand this news will be an incredible disappointment to all across the international aerospace industry, not to mention our important exhibitors, suppliers and visitors,” said the statement. “We at Farnborough International share your disappointment that we are unable to present the Airshow as planned, but rest assured, we are determined to continue to work together and will ensure the Farnborough International Airshow returns in 2022 better than ever.”


Vistajet wants you to “Double down on your well being”

VistaJet has partnered with Dr. Peter Fuda to bring you a series of tips on how to stay calm and look after your emotional well being during these troubled times.

According to Dr. Fuda, “Emotional contagion is spreading even faster than the virus,” so he recommends prioritising exercise, diet, deep-sleep and rest.

You can read more of Dr. Fuda’s tips by visiting the VistaJet website. Alternatively, you can click here to go directly to the right page.



Textron Aviation will furlough most of its US-based staff for four weeks

Textron Aviation said that it will furlough “most” of its US-based staff for four weeks. The Witchita-based manufacturer said in an email that it would not be providing details on how many of its staff it will furlough, or for how long, but did confirm that the four-week furlough will affect “most” of its US-based staff. The four-week furlough period is to be taken during the period between March 23rd and May 29th.

“This decision will allow us to do our part in mitigating and containing the spread of the COVID-19 through social distancing while continuing to support our customers,” the company said in an email, adding “As tough as this situation is, the safety and well-being of our employees and customers remains our top priority.”



EBAA launches new Covid-19 resource centre

The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) has launched a new online resource centre, which is designed to keep operators and flight departments updated on the latest travel restrictions. The resource centre also aims to give the latest operational guidance on how to cope with Covid-19.

You can go to the resource centre directly by clicking on this link.



Aerial imagery from HxGN Content Program made available to fight Covid-19

An aerial imagery library of the entire US and Europe is being made freely available to government agencies and non-profit organsations to fight the Covid-19 outbreak by Hexagon’s Geosystems division HxGN Content Program.

John Welter, President, Geospatial Content Solutions, Hexagon’s Geosystems division, said: “As we are all going through these uncertain times, we are keeping those directly affected by the virus in our thoughts, from family and friends to co-workers and neighbours to partners and customers.”

Welter added the aerial maps could be a key source of information. “With the release of this high-accuracy aerial imagery, our hope is it will be used as a key source of information for effective response by authorities and others working to contain and treat the virus.”

The ortho-rectified high-resolution aerial imagery can be used by first responders, healthcare departments and geographic information systems (GIS) professionals to assess the spread of the virus, visualise the scope of affected areas, plan coordination efforts, and improve responses. The imagery is also needed to create maps, spatial data products and geo-information for those responding to national emergencies.

Hexagon will make the data available for 90 days through WMS/WMTS protocols directly into all GIS or enterprise applications including: Esri, MapInfo, and Global Mapper. Additional software is not needed to access the maps.

For more information about streaming the HxGN Content Program aerial imagery in support of Covid-19 control and prevention plans, please contact [email protected]MS.


Aerial imagery from the HxGN Content Program has been made free to stream for 90 days to support the responses to control Covid-19.



NETJETS publishes list of precautionary measures it is now taking

NetJets, the US-based fractional operator, has published a list on its website of the extra precautions it is now taking to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The post also says that the company has a cross-functional team that meets daily to review all of the latest data that has been issued by governments around the world.

“While flying private (and avoiding crowded commercial airports) already provides a level of protection, our Operations Team and Safety and Security Team have developed a comprehensive plan to guide our response to the virus. This includes:

Pre-flight screening: Our Owner Services Team will review all flight details and request additional information concerning your previous or future travel plans to provide Owners with the best-tailored travel advice

Aircraft cleaning: Additional thorough cleans are being performed by our professional cleaning companies and crew

Crew: In order to minimize the risk of having our crew exposed to the virus, and therefore our Owners, all our crew travel is closely monitored

MedAire: Through our partnership with MedAire, our Owners, staff and operations are being supported by expert medical advice at all times

Employee greeting etiquette: In order to minimise the risk of exposure, the avoidance of handshakes between our crew, Owners, as well as any supplier, is recommended

Staff awareness: Daily updates of the evolving situation with a panel of experts, relevant operational information and recommendations for safekeeping are shared with our staff



Money available to lend against aircraft, but it varies greatly from lender to lender

As a global pandemic rips through several industries, the aircraft banking market is one that many aircraft owners will be concerned about.

The US Federal Reserve has cut interest rates twice in the last several weeks, resulting in an overall reduction in rates for the aircraft banking market, according to JetLoan Capital, the aircraft finance broker.

Many large corporations have drawn on their credit facilities to raise capital, which curtails other lending availability Some banks are also putting in ‘floors’ on lending rates, as they do not want commit funds for five to 20 years at very low rates.

Other banks may decide to curtail lending, pause lending, or become pickier as to the credits they will underwrite.

Given lower overall interest rates many aircraft owners are refinancing aircraft to improve cash flow, and lever aircraft owned “free and clear” to generate capital.

JetLoan Capital said there was money available to lend against aircraft, but it varies greatly from lender to lender.


AIC Title on temporary new processes in FAA public documents room

With the Federal Aviation Administration putting a set of temporary new procedures in place in its public documents room, AIC Title says that there is now a practical problem with getting IRN codes. An IRN code is needed to register an aircraft on the international registry.

In a note circulated by AIC Title, the company warns companies to be cautious if offered an expedited process, saying that “The FAA does not selectively provide shortcuts to any provider.”

You can read the full note below:

“To our Aviation Industry Colleagues:

The FAA Civil Aviation Registry issued temporary processes and procedures for the Public Documents Room that were put into effect yesterday. These processes and all information from the Registry are made available to all title service companies and law firms in Oklahoma City that provide aircraft registration services. The FAA does not selectively provide shortcuts to any provider.

The temporary procedures have presented a practical issue when it comes to obtaining timely authorization codes, commonly known as the “IRN code” from the FAA to permit registrations on the International Registry following the filing of an FAA Entry Point Filing Form International Registry (AC Form 8050-135). Instead of being passed through the infamous “window”, immediately time-stamped and directed for further processing, registration and filing documents are now being placed in drop-boxes in the lobby outside the Public Documents Room, and collected twice a day for regular registrations and once each hour for priority registrations. Just as in the case of obtaining filing times, issuance of authorizations codes is also being delayed and impacted by the temporary processes.

Because U.S. Federal law has designated the FAA as the Entry Point to the International Registry (“IR”) and requires the FAA’s authorization for a valid IR filing (see 49 U.S. Code §44107, et seq.) aircraft transaction parties seeking to obtain timely IRN codes need to be cautious of any promises being made to seemingly expedite this process, including:

1. Filing IR registrations without an authorization code as such filings would not be valid under U.S. law, and
2. Filing prospective IR registrations that may violate the terms of lender or aircraft purchase and sale agreements that often prohibit such filings, and
3. Any scheme that may encroach upon the FAA’s authority to provide authorization for IR registrations.

For the time being, parties to aircraft transactions may have to accept that the Registry’s temporary procedures will cause both expected and unexpected delays in their transactions. Valid IR registrations must be authorized by the FAA and by no one else.

In these unprecedented times, AIC will do its best to address issues with the Registry as they arise and everything that we can to make sure that our customers’ registration documents and submissions are being handled as expeditiously as possible. Stay safe and healthy!”

Asian Sky Group says life is returning to new normal in Hong Kong

After China, Hong Kong was one of the first countries to report Covid-19 cases. Asian Sky Group now says that life has begun to get back to a new normal. In an email, the company said it is embracing the uncertainty that lies ahead, and that it is “committed to adaptability.”

“The world is facing a truly unprecedented situation. Here, in Hong Kong, we’ve been dealing with what has escalated into a full-blown pandemic since mid-January. Our lives have been impacted significantly – as the US and Europe are now facing – yet we’ve embraced the uncertainty that lies ahead and committed to adaptability.

Stringent measures were put in place early on in Hong Kong — with the cancellation of large social gatherings, closure of schools, implementation of remote working, and a major overhaul from individuals and businesses, alike, when it came to hygiene.

These measures have been inconvenient, yet necessary, and ultimately have proven to be effective — thus far. While Hong Kong is by no means ‘in the clear’ from this pandemic, our lives are slowly returning to normal. For us, at Asian Sky Group & Asian Sky Media, that means we’re back to our normal activities: lunch meetings, hiking, coffee meetups, and more.
As we all move back into a more normal routine, Asian Sky Group & Asian Sky Media aim to provide insights on COVID-19 and offer helpful business aviation information, particularly to our friends, partners, and clients who are just now experiencing the severity of this pandemic.”

You can listen to a recent Asian Sky Group podcast, in which the company discusses the current state of the global market, by clicking here.


NBAA to host free Covid-19 guidance webinar

The National Business Aviation Administration (NBAA) will hold a free webinar on Friday March 20th, in which medical and international operations experts will give guidance on how to deal with the threat of Covid-19.

The webinar will start at 11:00 eastern standard time. Amongst the experts on the webinar will be Dr. Paulo Alves, MedAire, Robert Moya, senior operations manager, Universal Weather and Aviation, and Christine Vamvakas, senior account manager – charter management, Universal Weather and Aviation.

You can register for the webinar directly by clicking here


You can contact any of our journalists by clicking the initials at the end of each story. Alternatively, please use any of the links below:

AB – Alex Baldwin – [email protected]
AD – Alud Davies – [email protected]
AW – Alasdair Whyte – [email protected]
MS – Mike Stones – [email protected]
YK – Yuvan Kumar – [email protected]
YM – Yves Le Marquand – [email protected]