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Flight Safety Foundation insists on standard procedure amid disruption

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Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) has urged aviation agencies to sustain standard practices to keep the airspace safe amid current disruption in air travel.

The international organisation said it was important to maintain high safety performance in operations despite a reduction in air movement.

The foundation, in a standard document described as “work in progress,” is set to collect and organise the various detailed recommendations and specific COVID-19 procedural steps that are being implemented worldwide.

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The foundation recognised the global society’s struggles with the tragic and unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, with 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 per cent 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.

A member of the group, Dr. Harold Demuren, observed that due to the pandemic, passenger operations had been slashed, fleets of aircraft grounded, and thousands of employees 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 aeroplanes that maintenance engineers 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,” Demuren said.

The FSF further explained that the coronavirus pandemic was 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 overemphasised.

“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 the 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, recognising 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 the diversion of resources from safety activities.

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