COVID-19 LIVE BLOG: March 30
As the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US approaches 150,000, the largest total worldwide, Corporate Jet Investor’s live Covid-19 blog continues to bring you news and views from business aviation.
Please send any news or comments to [email protected]
UK government announces £75m package for special charter flights to bring back Britons abroad
In a daily briefing from the UK government, Dominic Raab, secretary of state for foreign affairs, announced a £75m package “for special charter flights for stranded Britons from places where commercial airlines are no longer operating”.
He said the number of Britons already brought back from such areas – including China and Peru – was 1,400. Local authorities have been taking decisions on short notice which has made
Now, Britons abroad can avail of special charter flights from Titan, British Airways, Virgin, EasyJet and Jet2 to return home.
Flight simulators ‘help keep pilots’ skills sharp during Covid-19 pandemic’
Flight simulator training will help pilots and trainee pilots hone their flying skills while aircraft are grounded during the Covid-19 global pandemic, according to captain Nadhem AlHamad, general manager of Alpha Aviation Academy UAE. The academy, which is a joint venture between C&C Alpha Group Ltd UK and Air Arabia, invested recently in a new Alsim-AL172 flight simulator.
AlHamad told Corporate Jet Investor: “Simulator training gives the industry an opportunity while so many planes are grounded to recreate the flying experience and keep training the pilots that will be needed to meet the upcoming demand.”
Simulators are also useful for cutting operational costs, such as fuel use, so they offer a high efficiency when it comes to training, he added. “With safety at the forefront of modern training, simulators offer us a chance to give complete training to cadets, while recreating multiple training scenarios that guarantee effective aircraft operation.”
‘Simulator training may become mandated’
Some recency rules state pilots cannot operate an aircraft carrying passengers unless they have carried out a certain number of take offs, approaches and landings within a recent period. “In the current climate, simulators offer a much better way for pilots to train or keep practising,” said AlHamad. “Simulator training may even become mandated before many pilots return to work to make sure they are ready to return to flying.”
The 2019 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook predicted that 804,000 new civil aviation pilots will be needed in the next 20 years to meet growing demand for air travel, he added. But many current pilots are also close to retirement. “In the US for example, almost 50% of the pilots flying today are close to retiring. So, demand for better trained and highly skilled pilots is only going to rise. Investing in simulator training now can help us to continue meet that demand.”
‘Demand for better trained and highly skilled pilots’
Alpha Aviation Academy UAE is one of the Middle East’s leading pilot training providers and is the world’s second largest provider of the Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL).
Cadet pilot at Alpha Aviation Academy UAE, Jieun Kwon told Corporate Jet Investor: “The simulator training is really important for building teamwork, as well as providing practice in regard to normal flights and emergency situations. It lets you enhance your knowledge, skills, and situational awareness in a very realistic and practical way.”
Meanwhile, the AL172 features two aircraft cockpit seats, Cessna 172 specific interior cockpit and flight deck, Garmin G1000 NXi avionics with GFC 7000 Autopilot. It is equipped with dual electrical control loading on the three axes, software with localiser performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approach and navigation database, which is updated quarterly. Read more about the AL172 simulator here.
“Simulator training may even become mandated before many pilots return to work …”.
FAA makes Covid-19 accommodations on Part 135 training
The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) has answered the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) call to take unprecedented steps to ensure that many charter operators are able to continue flying through the crisis. The FAA issued the following four exemptions in effect through May 31, 2020. These are applicable to most Part 135 operators:
– FAA-2020-0291, exempting Part 135 operators from the requirement that crew members don protective breathing equipment or oxygen masks during recurrent and upgrade training, testing and checking.
– FAA-2020-0292, allowing Part 135 ground personnel and crew members to complete recurrent training and qualification activities up to three calendar months after the month that the activity was due to have been completed, for requirements that were due to be completed through May 31, 2020.
– FAA-2020-0307, exempting Part 119 certificate holders, including some Part 135 operations, from the requirement that crew members don protective breathing equipment or oxygen masks during recurrent and upgrade training, checking and evaluation.
– FAA-2020-0308, allowing Part 119 certificate holders, including some Part 135 operations, allowing ground personnel, crew members and dispatchers to complete recurrent training and qualification activities up to three calendar months after the month that the activity was due to have been completed, for requirements that were due to be completed through May 31, 2020.
In issuing these exemptions, the FAA noted that the agency circumvented the typical publication process in the Federal Register, as “delaying action would have an adverse and potentially immediate impact on [the] continuity of critical aviation operations essential to the public interest”.
Aerospace consortium to help develop medical ventilators
A consortium of aerospace companies – including GKN, Airbus, Thales and Renishaw – will join hundreds of other UK companies to develop and manufacture ventilators during the coronavirus pandemic.
The consortium, led by component manufacturer Meggit, has responded to the UK government’s call for industrial companies to make ventilators ‘from scratch’ to supply to the NHS. Car makers Nissan and McLaren are leading two other industry consortia to help develop the ventilators.
The goal is to develop a basic prototype in the coming weeks and manufacture 5,000 ventilators as soon as possible, with a total goal of 35,000. manufacturing is expected to start within a month.
FAA allows pilots with expiring medical certificates to continue flying
The FAA is allowing pilots whose airmen medical certificates are due to expire between March 31 and June 30 to continue flying – helping reduce the burden on the US medical specialists during the pandemic.
The exemption applies to all pilot flight crew members and engineers with certificates set to expire over the coming months.
“The FAA has determined that those persons subject to this temporary measure may operate beyond the validity period of their medical certificate during the effective period of this accommodation without creating a risk to aviation safety that is unacceptable under the circumstances,” The agency wrote in the policy update.
“The FAA will reevaluate this decision as circumstances unfold, to determine whether an extension or other action is needed to address this pandemic-related challenge.”
Piper Aircraft to manufacture and donate protective gear to help Coronavirus efforts
Piper Aircraft has announced that it will be making protective gear for, and donating masks to, the Cleveland Indian River Hospital during the covid-19 pandemic.
Indian River county currently has 24 confirmed coronavirus cases. As a result, the hospital is facing a shortage of protective equipment. To meet the growing demand, Piper has agreed to supply face shields, which it has developed in-house, and 1,300 N95-approved masks to the hospital.
James Funk, Piper’s Chief Operations Officer, said: “This is a critical time for our community, our country and the world. It is a time for action, cooperation and collaboration. As a team, we can make a difference for people in need and directly support those fighting the battle on the front lines of this unprecedented crisis. This is just one small way that we are trying to help,”
“We want healthcare providers, especially, and patients to be safe, therefore it’s vital that we all pull together to help our community, weather this crisis and come out the other side stronger than ever.”
Network Manager publishes Business Continuity Plan
The European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC) has declared a network crisis in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Subsequently a Business Continuity Plan (BPC) has been published on the Network Operations Portal to provide the latest information on developments related to the pandemic’s impact on aviation.
Promoted through the European Business Aviation Association’s (EBAA) #BSafe initiative. Starting now, the Network Manager alongside the EACCC will monitor the network situation with regards to Covid-19 24/7 and update the BPC accordingly.
The BPC will include:
- The intended number of sectors to be operated in a maximum configuration
- All the updated opening schemes
- Expected reductions in capacity
- New airport closure periods (if changes are made)
- Any other relevant information concerning business continuity planning, including availability of support to operations staff (ATFM strategic planning)
- The Business Continuity Plan is updated regularly, you will find the latest edition on the Network Operations Portal (NOP) under Network Headline News.
The Business Continuity Plan is updated regularly, find the latest edition on the Network Operations Portal (NOP) under Network Headline News.
London Heliport announces temporary closure
London Heliport has temporarily closed due to the ‘severe impact’ on operations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The heliport announced today that it is halting all flights and will be unable to provide full services until the UK’s national lockdown has been lifted.
A company spokesperson said in a statement that it expects the heliport to remain closed until the 13 April, where reopening will be subject to review. It will not take any future bookings during the closure.
London Heliport General Manager Simon Hutchins commented. “We would like to recognise the hard work and dedication of our team at the heliport. Everyone has been working tirelessly to ensure we adhere to Government guidance at all times.”
Leonardo deploys three AW159s to combat coronavirus
Leonardo Helicopters has deployed three British Army AW159 Wildcats to support the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The Army Air Corps will be operating the helicopters out of the Navy’s Yeovilton base in Somerset, flying emergency response missions alongside the Royal Air Force across the South of England.
“Leonardo is proud to support the UK Ministry of Defence’s Covid-19 operations with its AW159 Wildcat helicopters as the Country comes together to tackle this pandemic,” said Norman Bone, chairman and managing director of Leonardo UK.
The UK MoD is operating emergency response helicopters in Edinburgh as well as the South of England – with three RAF Puma helicopters on standby at Kinloss Barracks in Scotland
Munich Airport reports business aviation traffic down 30%
Business aviation traffic at Munich Airport fell by 30% in the first 27 days of March compared with the same period last year, a spokeswoman told Corporate Jet Investor.
“Taxi traffic only, [in other words] chartered private jets, in January 2020 were 98% [of the total achieved in the first month of last year],.” according to the source. “In February 2020, the figure was 104% or 99% excluding the leap day. The current March figures however, fell back to 70% [of the total achieved in March 2019].”
In the first 27 days of March, total flight movements at the airport achieved 78% of the total achieved in the same period of last year. See the table below for more information.
Meanwhile on Friday (March 27th) Munich Airport was said to be in “in crisis mode”, with no short-term prospect of an end to the current worldwide transport disruption.
“We are experiencing a crisis in global air transportation on an unprecedented scale, with no end in sight,” said Jost Lammers, the airport’s President and CEO.
“Protecting the health of the passengers and employees at Munich Airport remains our top priority. Another vital concern is to limit the enormous economic damage for Munich Airport and the people working here by taking all necessary measures to preserve our financial stability.”
Meanwhile read more about Lammers’ view on the prospects for aviation, together with the latest financial results of the airport’s owner here.
Total movements general aviation Jan 1st – March 27th
2019: 4,960 movements
2020: 4,457 movements
Traffic performance on a monthly basis compared with same months in 2019
January 2020: 94%
February 2020: 98% (95% without leap day)
March 2020: 78%
Taxi traffic only (chartered private jets) in 2020 compared to 2019
January 2020: 98%
February 2020: 104% (99% excluding leap day).
Business aviation traffic at Munich Airport fell by 30% in the first 27 days of March.
Hong Kong braces for second wave of Covid-19 cases
Just as Hong Kong began working towards what seemed to be a normal routine it is now facing a second wave of Covid-19 cases. Asian Sky Group reported, in the last week, the numbers have increased significantly as those who left Hong Kong when the outbreak first occurred are now returning, amid stringent lockdown measures being implemented in the US and Europe.
Hong Kong now faces further measures to help stabilise the number of cases, including mandatory quarantine of all arrivals. Asian Sky Group said: “This is a firm reminder that each of us – in Hong Kong and elsewhere – must practice social responsibility while continuing to stay vigilant.”
BLADE implements preventative measures on jet and helicopter services
Private jet and helicopter charter operator, BLADE, implemented additional preventative measures across its fleet to combat the spread of coronavirus. Here are some measures:
– All helicopter and jet passenger cabins will be sanitised before each flight.
– Helicopter headphones (utilised on certain aircraft) will be sanitised before each flight and microphones will be removed as an additional precaution.
– All vehicle interiors of BLADE arranged ground transportation will be sanitised before each pick-up, including ground transfers between helicopters and airport terminals, as well as jet and helicopter arrival transportation (e.g., BLADE Ground Connect service in Miami, Westchester, Los Angeles or New York City). BLADE has its own dedicated fleet of SUVs at all New York area airports.
The company said the “helicopter and jet check-in process is one of the most important ways” it ensures safety and security of its passengers. And the process will now “include non-contact temperature screening at all BLADE Lounges and airports” it serves, until further notice.
GlobeAir offer empty legs as operators change approach to aid pandemic fight
GlobeAir will offer empty legs free of charge to “to help governments, embassies and medical staff” struggling to cope due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Bernhard Fragner, founder of GlobeAir, made the announcement this morning, he said: “Facilitating the transport of organs and blood reserves during such unprecedented times is also one of our top priorities and I am proud to be sponsoring this initiative.”
Empty legs are all private charter flights that fly without passengers on their way to reposition themselves from one airport to another. Since the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted transport globally, GlobeAir have decided to offer its empty leg flights free of charge to governments, embassies, medical staff, cargo of medical supply and transport of organs.
GlobeAir said: “We are happy to be contributing to the transport of essential goods, keeping flying people who need to travel for as much as we can.”
Meanwhile, VistaJet said it will identify “new ways to be of help through its global network and infrastructure”. The company is working with governments worldwide to help repatriate citizens by providing complimentary empty-leg flights on its fleet.
“To further ensure that officials are able to keep their response plans as prompt as possible, the company is assisting with the complex logistics of the necessary permits and paperwork,” it said.
VistaJet is also in talks with medical organisations, health experts and regulators worldwide to transport key medical supplies, and says it will offer its empty legs for free “to transport medical experts to necessary locations as they help to fight the global pandemic”.
OneWeb files for Chapter 11
OneWeb, the satellite company which aimed to bring internet to everybody, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday saying that it had failed to secure additional funding due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement on the company’s website, the firm said that it had voluntarily declared bankruptcy in New York.
You can read the full statement below.
OneWeb (“OneWeb,” “the Company”), the global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone everywhere, announced today that the Company and certain of its controlled affiliates have voluntarily filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The Company intends to use these proceedings to pursue a sale of its business in order to maximize the value of the company.
To date, the Company has successfully launched 74 satellites as part of its constellation, secured valuable global spectrum, begun development on a range of user terminals for a variety of customer markets, has half of its 44 ground stations completed or in development, and performed successful demonstrations of its system with broadband speeds in excess of 400 Mbps and latency of 32 ms. In addition, OneWeb’s commercial team has seen significant early global demand for OneWeb’s high-speed, low-latency connectivity services from governments and leaders in the automotive, maritime, enterprise, and aviation industries.
This demand for connectivity delivered from low Earth orbiting satellite constellations underscores the tremendous need for high-quality connectivity, especially for rural and under-connected communities worldwide. The OneWeb ecosystem has transformed the satellite industry introducing innovative new technologies and operational advances. These developments have fundamentally changed the economics of satellite communications, opening up new markets such as cellular backhaul and connectivity on the move.
Since the beginning of the year, OneWeb had been engaged in advanced negotiations regarding investment that would fully fund the Company through its deployment and commercial launch. While the Company was close to obtaining financing, the process did not progress because of the financial impact and market turbulence related to the spread of COVID-19.
Today, the Company has filed a number of customary motions with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking authorization to support its ongoing operations during the Chapter 11 process, including approval for the consensual use of its existing cash collateral to continue to fund the business. In addition, OneWeb is actively negotiating debtor-in-possession financing, which, if acquired and approved by the Bankruptcy Court, will ensure OneWeb is able to fund additional financial commitments as it conducts a sale process under Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Together, these actions will allow OneWeb to meet post-petition obligations to its remaining employees and certain vendors in the ordinary course.
Adrian Steckel, Chief Executive Officer of OneWeb, stated, “OneWeb has been building a truly global communications network to provide high-speed low latency broadband everywhere. Our current situation is a consequence of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. We remain convinced of the social and economic value of our mission to connect everyone everywhere. Today is a difficult day for us at OneWeb. So many people have dedicated so much energy, effort, and passion to this company and our mission. Our hope is that this process will allow us to carve a path forward that leads to the completion of our mission, building on the years of effort and the billions of invested capital. It is with a very heavy heart that we have been forced to reduce our workforce and enter the Chapter 11 process while the Company’s remaining employees are focused on responsibly managing our nascent constellation and working with the Court and investors.”
JSSI suspends annual rate increases
Jet Support Services Inc (JSSI) said in a statement that it is implementing several new measures to help its customers, including the suspension of all annual make and model rate increases until June 30th.
You can read the full statement below:
“To Our Valued Clients:
As all of us work to navigate this global health and economic crisis, JSSI remains committed to providing you with world-class service and support. Your dedicated Client Relationship Manager and Technical Advisor are on call and available. Our AOG call center is fully staffed and ready to respond.
We recognize the unique set of challenges every business is facing. As a result, JSSI will be providing immediate financial relief to you, our customer.
Effective immediately, JSSI has:
Suspended all annual make and model rate increases through June 30, 2020.
Implemented a 25% reduction on annual minimum flight hour invoices paid net 30 days, OR;
Extended payment terms to 90 days on annual minimum flight hour invoices in lieu of the 25% reduction. For those paying minimums each month the invoice will be reduced by 25%.
For Part 91 and Part 135 operators using their aircraft for rescue flights related to COVID-19, please advise your Client Relationship Manager and those hours, along with additional credits, will be applied to your account.
We will continue to evaluate these measures regularly and provide further updates as the situation unfolds.
As an organization, we are committed to taking measures that provide tangible relief. We thank you for your business and the faith that you place in us each and every day.”
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]