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COVID-19: Flight safety Foundation insists on operational safety despite reduced operations

FLIGHT Safety Foundation (FSF) has called for a continuous entrenchment of safety principles despite reduced operations of airlines and airports because of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

The independent, non-profit, international organization which developed a document as supplemental material for safety and aviation professionals in spheres of the sub-sector held that it is important to maintain high safety performance in operations.

According to the Foundation, the document which it described as “work in progress,” is set to collect and organize the various detailed recommendations and specific COVID-19 procedural steps that are being implemented around the world

The Foundation stated, ”As global society struggles with the tragic and unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, we in aviation are seeing a previously unimaginable impact on our industry. The International Air Transport Association’s latest projection shows that 2020 passenger revenues could fall $252 billion, or 44 percent from last year’s level, assuming severe travel restrictions remain in place for up to three months and are followed by a gradual economic recovery later this year.

“As has been well documented, passenger operations have been slashed, fleets of aircraft have been ground, and thousands of employees have been furloughed. But, at the same time, the global aviation system is still functioning. Air traffic control towers and en route centers continue to guide aircraft to their destinations; airports are open and operating, albeit at much reduced capacity; and pilots and flight attendants continue to operate airplanes that maintenance engineers are ensure are airworthy.

“In the midst of crisis, safety must still prevail. It is essential to maintain high safety performance in continuing operations, in reduced operations and, hopefully sooner rather than later, in increasing operations as carriers begin bringing aircraft and service back online.”

The FSF further explained that the coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating effect on aviation and represents the biggest strategic shock to the global aviation system since international air travel began but that their mission to connect, influence and lead global aviation safety cannot be overemphasized.

“Whereas we need to acknowledge that the crisis is first and foremost a human tragedy, and everyone’s first priority is to ensure their own family’s safety, we also need to understand that our world as we know it will not be the same even after the virus is contained.

“ Never has there been such a critical time to bring together the world’s aviation community for the protection of our people and our operations. Through its independence, impartiality and international community, the Foundation is in a unique position to assist with safe navigation through these exceptional times. Together we must establish a broad industry set of guidelines of “good things to do” in an increasingly fragmented and complex situation, recognizing that financial pressures will be acute and that there are no limits to the benefits of sharing information and learning.”

Some airlines are shutting down their operations. Others continue to run on reduced schedules. Cargo operations, air traffic control, airport and ground services now become critical elements in society’s efforts to overcome the crisis. Some routes and services are already reopening.

All these changes are putting a massive strain on the system and generating clear business, operations and safety risks. Industry leaders and managers will need to take care that the understandable focus on financial viability in the coming months does not include diversion of resources from safety activities.

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