Welcome to Resilient Aviation:
by Alison Chambers
Bravo to aviation media for their resilience in these challenging, lockdown times. Corporate Jet Investor, Aviation Week Group, Aviation International News, Avionics International, Gearup TV - all stepped up quickly to keep our industry connected.
When Alasdair Whyte’s first Town Hall webinar aired last week some 450 logged in. AIN’s COVID-19 impact seminar yesterday attracted 750 from all continents, except Australasia (understandably).
We really don’t know where we are going with this, highlighted David Dixon, President of JetCraft Asia, suggesting it’s like three heavy body blows - SARS, the financial crisis, and currency crisis all wrapped into one. He is right. And one can only estimate the magnitude of this crisis.
The good news is that Asia and China are opening up again, and the world relies on China for medical aid. In Europe, Austria (out of heavy curfew) is relaxing its rules - so is Denmark. Observers generally feel though that we are on a U-shape of recovery - rather than a V, but certainly not an L-shape.
Industry associations have rallied too, including EBAA and ERA (European Regions Airline Association) with a dedicated COVID-19 resource on their websites to keep its members informed. In this first issue, we highlight a positive call from EBAA Secretary General Athan Hussein Khan that business aviation will bounce back - and more quickly than the airlines. When we get out of this, business aviation may well be a valuable resource to the airline industry, which is going through a lot more pain.
Following a flurry of charter activity in March owing to the coronavirus, many business aviation companies are finding the current situation challenging and complicated as restrictions abound.
A recent podcast, hosted by Avionics International’s Editor in Chief Woodrow Bellamy III, tackled how and when we as an industry will get back to normal after the pandemic.
Ian Moore, Chief Commercial Officer of global aviation provider, VistaJet, shared that his company had experienced an increase in demand for charter flights in March with travel restrictions coming thick and fast on commercial airlines. Interestingly, many clients hadn’t flown privately before.
"Going forward as an industry it is important that we work together to get through the current crisis," said Moore. "We are in a high fixed cost industry and need to keep our industry alive. If every part of the supply chain pulls together, there will be a very strong return when things open up."
"People will remember this for a very long time and it will change the way that people travel," he continued. "Clients will favour an enclosed, sanitised cabin and will prefer to fly with operators they know and trust."
Optimistically, he anticipates as the last to suffer, private aviation will likely be the first one to recover. And when it comes back it will come back big.
Universal Avionics is assisting the local Tucson community in protecting healthcare workers and first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company is currently providing the non-profit group, Hope Worldwide (Tucson Chapter), with assembly line space at their Tucson Headquarters to manufacture medical face masks and shields.
“This plan was developed in coordination with the University of Arizona, City of Tucson, Pima County, and the Arizona Technology Council, and is a great example of our community coming together,” said Steve Pagnucco, Vice President of Operations at Universal Avionics.
“Within one week of reaching out to our partners to see how we could help, we had an assembly line safely set up to produce much needed personal protective equipment,” he added.
“On behalf of Universal Avionics, I would like to thank everyone involved for their incredible responsiveness, cooperation, and teamwork.”
Greenwood Village, Colorado:
'The Impact on the Business Aviation Industry'
ARGUS International has released its analysis of the disruption caused by COVID-19 on business aviation flight activity.
The publication titled "COVID-19 and the Impact on the Business Aviation Industry", is available for download and outlines the dramatic results the global pandemic is having on the business aviation community and the longer-term predictions.
“Without a doubt, the aggressive yet necessary steps taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have had a chilling effect on the aviation industry", said Joe Moeggenberg, CEO of ARGUS International.
"Using our realtime and historical TRAQPak flight tracking data, our analysts took an objective, data-driven look into how this catastrophic event has altered business aviation traffic and provided a glimpse of what to expect soon."
By Kelly Murphy
On the frontline during any pandemic or health care emergency are the dedicated members of the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS).
While its providers are trained to respond - in the air and on the ground - to all kinds of infectious diseases and emergencies, the size and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a lack of equipment to keep its transport providers safe, says Cameron Curtis, President and CEO of Washington, DC-based AAMS.
On behalf of the industry, AAMS has requested federal aid for a payroll tax holiday, priority access to protective equipment, exemption from National Guard or military duty, as well as specific leave and childcare support to address the challenges of EMS providers and services.
While providers are working to ensure transportation needs of patients, Cameron notes the emergency air medical industry is also seeing a loss in revenue.
With the aviation industry's expo and conference calendar erased for the foreseeable future, Resilient Aviation spoke to Mark Brown, founder and Managing Director of international publishers and conference & exhibition organisers, Times Aerospace Ltd, about the challenges the pandemic has brought.
Over 110 aviation events have been cancelled or postponed because of Covid-19. How are you managing this part of your business?
It is sad that we have lost big trade/public aviation gatherings like Farnborough and RIAT and EBACE - that won’t come back this year. Last week we announced the new dates for our Aviation MENA Cairo show (18th and 19th October). The problem rescheduling is that you are already limited on the venue and restricted on dates too. Every conference organiser is trying to do the same. No one wants to do an event in July or August, so there’s a very limited window we have.
You were able to run Aviation Africa just before the lockdown - how was that?
We were so lucky. It ran in Addis Ababa on 4th and 5th March. One week later and we would have had to cancel. Some delegates were already being told not to take non-essential travel. Some were taking calls telling them to come home now as the conference wound down. We were a little lighter on numbers, but we gathered in 722 delegates from 82 countries and the feedback was great. It would have cost us dearly to cancel and too late to get any money back from contractors, stand builders, AV suppliers etc.
How are you managing on the publishing side?
Palmetto Bay, Florida:
X-1FBO launches free Training & Implementation Program: X-1 Cares
GMSTEK, developer and marketer of the industry-leading X-1FBO Management & Payment Processing System has launched 'X-1 Cares', designed to drive a new level of convenience and cost-effectiveness for FBOs and their customers.
The free Training & Implementation Program is designed to help FBOs get ready for the recovery while there is down time. The company's customer service team has devised an approach that will enable FBOs to have the industry leading X-1FBO Management & Payment Processing System up and running - at no implementation cost - when the crisis is over. Thereafter, reduced & deferred payment plans are available.
Jim Wiley, CEO, says: “I was a GM during the 2008 crisis, so I understand the challenges FBOs are facing today. Our programs are designed to address those challenges and enable our customers to emerge at the end ready to fly."
White Plains, NY:
Corporate Angel Network mourns passing of former Executive Director
Peter Fleiss, emeritus Executive Director of Corporate Angel Network and long-term contributor to the business aviation industry, passed away on April 4th.
Fleiss helmed CAN from 2005 to 2016. During his 11-year tenure, Fleiss grew CAN’s member companies to include over 500 supporters, encompassing half of the Fortune 100 companies. His efforts resulted in tripling the number of cancer patients flown, leading to 50,000 patient flights just before his retirement in 2016.
“Peter was instrumental in developing CAN into the organization it is today,” said CAN Exectuive Director, Gina Russo. “His continued commitment to the mission was well-known by patients and business aviation peers alike.”
Before joining CAN, Fleiss worked at SafeFlight Instrument Corporation, working in close collaboration with Leonard Greene, SafeFlight founder and CAN co-founder.
“Peter’s impact will live on through CAN’s mission and we will continue to follow in his footsteps to reach new heights,” added Russo.
Corporate Angel Network (CAN) helps cancer patients access the best treatment available by arranging free travel on corporate aircraft. CAN coordinates more than 250 patient flights each month and has completed 63,000 patient flights since its founding in 1981.
The WINGX Report:
The Covid crisis set off a dramatic fall in business aviation flight activity in March, with 36% fewer flights than in March 2019, some 23K fewer sectors year on year, taking the total Q1 trend down by 12% vs Q1 2019. The last 12-month trend has slipped down to -3%
According to WINGX`s latest monthly Business Aviation Monitor published today, March 2020 marked the lowest level of monthly activity in Europe in the last 15 years, 32% below the trough level recorded in the wake of the financial crisis back in 2009.
All the leading markets saw a very large drop in departures, with France seeing the largest absolute decline, over 3K sectors, and Italy relatively most affected, flights down 71%.
Across the busiest European cities for business aviation, London airports saw 22% decline, Paris 45% decline, Milan more than 70% decline. The biggest declines across these and other leading airports were felt in large cabin aircraft, these movements down by at least 40% YOY.
Reporting by Alison Chambers.
Whether it is weeks or months, we will bounce back. If there is an opportunity in this crisis we seize it,” EBAA Secretary General Athar Husain Khan stated yesterday, speaking on Aviation International’s News webinar (7th April) together with Pete Bunce, President and CEO of GAMA and Jeff Lake, COO of Duncan Aviation.
"Come the rebound we expect to see more people wanting a more protected (safer) travel environment when the travel restrictions are lifted. Last week, together with GAMA and with the the support of national business aviation associations EBAA wrote an open letter on the impact of COVID-19 on the bizav sector directed at the Commission and EASA.
Although much of the business and general aviation community has either temporarily closed down to weather the COVID-19 storm or dramatically reduced its activity, some companies are left with little choice but to continue at least a portion of their operation under trying circumstances.
Among them is 2Excel Aviation, perhaps most readily associated with The Blades aerobatic team, whose pilots are currently ‘working from home’, while cultivating a strong social media presence using their combined flying experience to motivate and inspire their fan base.
2Excel King Air Coastguard
Meanwhile, at 2Excel’s Doncaster-Sheffield Robin Hood Airport facility, it’s business as usual. Last November, the company’s Special Missions division began flying a five-year UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) contract to provide fixed-wing search and rescue (SAR) provision. Using two specially modified King Air B200s, with suitably equipped Navajo Panthers providing back-up or supplementary capacity, 2Excel continues to maintain an aircraft available at 45-minute readiness to launch in daylight (and one-hour readiness at night). It’s a commitment that’s continued without a break during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid the pandemic, many people across the world have been thrust into the realms of remote working - at very short notice. For most employees this is a new challenge, but from 20+ years of experience, the pointers below should help.
Do your best to replicate your office routine, including dressing as you would for the office and keeping to start and end times. Have a lunch break. Get up and walk around when you make your next coffee - and if you spot something that needs doing, make a list for later once you’ve signed off. Keep in regular contact with the colleagues you normally converse with.
Messaging and communications
If your employer already uses an integrated solution like Slack, Microsoft Teams or Facebook for Business, then you have a head start. Video calls are particularly helpful for those new to remote working. Skype is the grandfather of video calls, but Zoom has really taken over as the leader, and today it’s worth the same as the sum of Delta Airlines, United and Southwest combined.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:
By Jane Stanbury
Aviation has supported health care management of trans-border epidemics in Africa for decades. But Dawit Lemma, CEO of Addis Ababa-based Krimson Aviation has not been so tested by the intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic. His knowledge and expertise is urgently being sought by local, national and international aviation companies.
Dawit is working from his home office, where he is now locked down with his family. “As a young business, five years old this year, my team is fairly new to the industry and nothing I could have done could have prepared them for this frenzy. I’ve discovered they are an amazing set of people willing to go the extra mile during this most stressful time. They took each requirement into their stride and have really come together to support those that needed help.”
Canada and United States:
By Jane Stanbury
Flying Colours Corp. has supported clients in the aviation sector for more than 30 years, and during this COVID-19 pandemic, the senior leadership, and its committed workforce, are continuing to support customers by taking the necessary steps to safeguard continued operations.
As an aircraft repair centre Flying Colours Corp. is deemed an essential business by both the Ontario Provincial and Missouri Federal governments. Accordingly, it is working to government edicts to safeguard its workers and environment.
Eric Gillespie, Executive VP comments, “While we provide continuity of service to our customers the public health and safety of our employees, our customers, and all visitors to each of the Flying Colours Corp. locations is our top priority. We want to ensure seamless operations continue so that customers’ and essential aircraft are available to operate safely and reliably when needed.”
GearUp.TV's Liz Moscrop is conducting a series of short daily interviews with industry leaders during the CoVid-19 lockdown - aptly named Co-Videos.
This week's roundup comprises: PrivateFly's Adam Twidell on the importance of communication during the lock-down; Claveux Consulting insurance expert Zoe Layden on how the insurance industry is tackling the current wave of industry stoppages and compensation, and GlobeAir's Bernhard Fragner on how his company is dealing with requests for relief and keeping its employees safe.
By Keith Mwanalushi
Regular air services between the Isle of Man and mainland UK are essential for maintaining connectivity, even more so following the collapse last month of Flybe, the UK’s largest regional operator and heavy travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19.
Scottish airline Loganair continues to fly its niche route between the Isle of Man and London despite temporarily shutting down other services, but with London City Airport closed to commercial traffic, its IoM route, served by ATR 42 turboprops, has moved to Heathrow. Flights will continue until the end of April, confirmed Loganair CEO Jonathan Hinkles.
Loganair will be carrying isolation pods similar to this one | Photo courtesy EpiGuard.
London City Airport is expected to be used solely by the military (for the newly built 4,000-bed Nightingale Hospital - at London’s ExCel centre). It was opened last week virtually by HRH Prince Charles. A C-130J Hercules transport was seen practising take offs and landings at London City Airport two weeks ago.
RUAG repurposes EC 635s for COVID-19 patients
MRO group RUAG has been commissioned by the Swiss Air Force to modify the infrastructure of its EC 635 helicopters for the transport of COVID-19 patients.
Normally used by the Swiss Army for educational and training purposes, the size of the EC 635 makes it highly suitable for use as a special missions aircraft, affording the necessary spatial separation of the cockpit from the cabin in order to protect the pilots from the virus. Special consideration has to be given to possible interference-generating signals from the specialist medical equipment and there is a necessity for a suitable method for disinfecting the entire helicopter.
Two EC 365s have been repurposed in just a few days, and RUAG has ensured that the necessary production mechanisms are in place for the short-term modification of further EC 635-types.
The European Business Aviation Association has welcomed the financial package agreed by EUROCONTROL and European Member States enabling operators to defer the payment of air traffic control charges.
The EUROCONTROL Member States have agreed a financial package enabling operators to defer the payment of up to €1.1bn of air traffic control fees due for payment to Europe’s air traffic management industry in the coming months.
The announcement comes as the 374,000 people who work in the European Business Aviation sector are facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude and uncertain futures. In the last week of March, EUROCONTROL observed a decrease of 72% in Business Aviation traffic, and estimated revenue losses for the thousands of SMEs that make up the sector range from 50-90%.
Commenting on the announcement, EBAA Secretary-General Athar Husain Khan said: “We thank EUROCONTROL and the national governments for this measure which will ease the immediate burden on operators and help the Business Aviation sector continue to play its vital role in the fight against COVID-19.”
By Keith Mwanalushi
Regional aviation trade bodies have been strongly advocating for urgent relief measures to counter the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak for their airline members.
As the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) indicates, regional carriers are facing a significant cash liquidity issue due to little, or in many cases, no commercial operations. In its most recent acknowledgment, ERA welcomed the EUROCONTROL member states’ decision to defer air traffic control fees.
ERA states that the total bill for air navigation and associated services for February was €518m and the invoices for each airline were raised in mid-March, with payment due by 13 April 2020 for immediate disbursement to the individual states.
These will now be deferred to November. The decision comes as a relief for Europe’s airlines to ensure recovery is possible and the future viability of the industry.
ERA Director General Montserrat Barriga said with air traffic down 90% across Europe, there has been an urgent need to mitigate the devastating effects of this significant and unprecedented liquidity crisis. “This swift action taken by the EUROCONTROL member states will provide airlines with more flexibility as they financially plan for the future.”
What are your current priorities?
"Our focus right now is to gather as much information as we can about the short-term issues facing our members. They can be diverse, but we have maybe three or four key points that are worthwhile pushing which we are taking to the DfT and/or CAA for response.
We have upped our use of technology and are maintaining dialogue with our external industry work through video conferencing. We are looking at how we can better communicate with our members, and when we have answers from the regulator we will likely do some webinars. The unknown really is when and if the DfT are able to respond to our concerns.
Are you concerned that announcements on funding support haven’t been forthcoming?
"I’m sure we are sitting under the umbrella of ‘generic business support’ being offered to everybody. We have put our questions - along the lines of - some of our airports are not giving rent relief (to our FBO members); we aren’t seeing business rate relief - and actually if you can put pressure on airports that are owned by local government then potentially you may be able to have an impact.
"Most shareholders will sit back and do nothing. But if you apply a bit of conscience, then maybe we can make a difference."
By Paul Eden
Based at the edge of RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire, Magpas Air Ambulance serves Eastern England and beyond, but responds to calls over 12 counties.
It recently upgraded its helicopter from an MD 902 Explorer to a Leonardo AW169, enabling it to deliver critical care faster, wherever needed.
“For almost 50 years Magpas has been a pioneering leader in pre-hospital emergency medicine, so our new helicopter reflects how we are continually evolving to fit patient and clinical needs,” said Head of Communications, Antonia Brickell.
“It can fly further, carrying enough fuel for the Magpas doctor and paramedic team to fly three hours-plus, without refuelling. It’s faster too, enabling the charity to fly hospital level care to a greater number of patients in life threatening emergencies.”
Delivering pre-hospital emergency medicine in the field, on the factory floor or at the roadside, is fundamental to Magpas, its pioneering care also making it an important training organisation for other air ambulance providers and healthcare professionals.
Its world-leading capability is delivered by a charity that has, however, seen much of its ongoing fundraising efforts complicated by coronavirus.
By Chloe Wilson.
In an industry that’s been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, resilience is the name of the game as far as airports are concerned.
While air transport hubs across the world have noted a significant decline in passenger numbers owing to closed borders and cancelled flights, many have managed to stay open, albeit with skeleton flight services and limited staff, to maintain vital services.
London Biggin Hill Airport, operational for essential flights, last week launched a recovery package for business jet operators whether they are based at the airport or visiting.
Branded ‘Return to the Skies’ the package of services is designed to maintain aircraft worthiness and keep flight crew training current during the coronavirus crisis.
An Air Serv aircraft is on the ground in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) to support humanitarian operations there.
The program is expected to be short term until it can be taken over by the French organization, Aviation Sans Frontieres (ASF). However, border closures are quickly impacting the movement of aircraft and crew from country to country, increasing the likelihood of extension.
The Air Serv team arrived in CAR with the expectation of remaining for the next thirty days, but is prepared to continue the program should conditions deteriorate and the ASF crew is unable to enter the country.
“Emergency response waits for nothing. If anything, services are needed now more than ever,” says Air Serv CEO, Stu
By Jeremy Parkin
Offshore operator CHC has produced an adaption for their offshore AW139s in the Netherlands to provide a safety screen between pilots and passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quinten Hergaarden, Deputy Accountable Manager at CHC Helicopters Netherlands highlighted the project:
With the cabin already reduced from twelve to eight passengers (for social distancing purposes), a further risk assessment was done to minimise the business continuity risk for the operator.
This exercise identified that the pilots were the weakest link in the chain, and thus there was a pressing need to protect them. Various options were looked at, including the use of Night IFR screens, but the lead-time on these did not make this a practical solution.
The expertise and first aid training of TUI Airways cabin crew will be utilised across hospitals nationwide as TUI UK supports a new St John Ambulance scheme to help tackle the Coronavirus by relieving pressure on the National Health Service.
The St John Ambulance Covid-19 volunteering programme will place trained volunteers into essential NHS wards and departments around the UK to free up staff to fight the Covid-19 crisis on the frontline. They will support with a range of agreed tasks, from caring for the elderly to basic monitoring of patients, transporting medication and maintaining cleanliness and hygiene, helping keep the NHS running as smoothly as possible during the pandemic.
Volunteers will receive two days training provided by St John Ambulance, designed to complement the cabin crew training they have already undertaken.
Jon Knight, Director at St John Ambulance, said: “We’re delighted to work in partnership with TUI to create opportunities for first aid trained staff to volunteer for St John Ambulance to support their local communities and reduce pressure on the NHS.”
“We really need more businesses to let their trained staff volunteer in this crisis. St John Ambulance needs the support of the public, businesses and clarity from the government to let volunteers volunteer more than ever as we enter our biggest operation in our 143-year history.”
Managing Director of TUI Airways, Dawn Wilson commented, “Our cabin crew are uniquely placed to support this scheme. Of course, their first aid training will be an advantage, but the most important skills are the ability to keep calm under pressure, have a real empathy for people who need support and be ready to put a patient’s welfare first. This could be a job advert for TUI cabin crew who have all these abilities in abundance”
TUI Airways flew home its final passengers last weekend and operations are now paused until travel restrictions can be relaxed. More than 2,400 cabin crew are waiting to take to the skies again and are keen to use their skills to support the NHS.
For more information about the St John Ambulance Covid-19 Volunteering Programme contact firstname.lastname@example.org.