Coronavirus tackled in different ways throughout Europe
European states are tackling the Corona Virus very differently. A few states have regrettably banned VFR or GA flights. EASA is trying their best to help both commercial and GA pilots get through by allowing states to use exemptions to extend licenses, ratings and other deadlines that are hard to meet these days. At this point it seems states are implementing the provisions from EASA in different variations. Germany for instance is not allowing pilots to carry passengers when operating on an extension. Others states require a briefing from an instructor and/or seem to not have implemented a solution for all ratings. The national AOPAs are in dialogue with their national authorities to resolve the problems in each country.
An example is the way The Netherlands are tackling the problem within GA. This is the latest NOTAM and it basically says: you can fly, but only with your family members of alone. Unless of course the distance between you and the passenger(s) is more than 1,5 meter which is not the case in 'normal' GA aircraft.
UNTIL 28 APR. 2020 (EST); SFC+
Covid-19: flight restrictions. In accordance with physical distancing measures covid-19 by local authorities based on directives ministries of health and justice, general aviation flights including aerial work with POB, other than household members, distance less than 1,5M are prohibited. Police, HEMS and SAR flights are exempted.
How do I keep my plane clean in times of Corona?
EASA has prepared a manual how to disinfect General Aviation aircraft. Useful hints and ideas to keep your plane virus free. Especially intended of course for flying schools and flying clubs where various people use the same plane.
Coronavirus Guide for Disinfection of General Aviation Aircraft
The following guide is specifically for General Aviation (GA) aircraft focusing on aircraft that are operated by more than one person. If you own and operate your own aircraft, you are the only person flying it
and always fly solo, you will only be exposed to your own contamination within the aircraft. On the other hand, aircraft operated by flight schools, or a flying club, will usually be flown by several people and crew.
The advice appears to be that Coronavirus seems to transmit through body fluids. This implies that droplets exhaled through coughing and sneezing may transmit the virus directly from person to person. However, the virus can survive for a significant amount of time on different types of surfaces. If you touch a surface that has been touched or sneezed upon by an infected person, you may be exposed to the virus.
Cleaning and Disenfection:
Disinfect the aircraft between each flight.
Clean all surfaces where that may have been in contact with other people.
Do not use compressed air, steamers or pressure washers. Viruses that are stationary on a surface may be sent back up into the air and inhaled.
Do not start the cleaning process with a vacuum cleaner. Viruses may be blown through the filter and back into the air and inhaled (few vacuum cleaner filters stop the virus). A vacuum cleaner should only be used on surfaces that have already been disinfected. If possible, keep the body of the vacuum cleaner outside the aircraft to ensure that exhaust is blown away to the open air.
Do not use an ionizer. Although it effectively attacks organic matter, it will also attack parts made of organic material, as rubber, plastics and leather. Be aware of the effect of ozon on rubber hoses.
Do not use hydrogen peroxide. Although effective, when vaporized it will deteriorate leather, acrylic fixtures and polycarbonate windows.
Do use a disinfectant that has a documented effect on the corona virus.
You will find lists of recommended substances here:
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
United States Environmental Protection Agency
If you cannot get hold of ready-made substances for cleaning purposes, it is possible to mix one. A solution of Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) 60 % and 40 % water is effective on most surfaces, carpets, seat cushion textiles. A 50/50-mix IPA solution will be suitable on most instrument panels. Leather and windows should not be treated with alcohol. A household dishwasher detergent is another option. Be careful to apply the right disinfectant on the right surface.
Some chemicals are corrosive. Do not use them on metals.
Some chemicals make plastic brittle. Do not use them on plastics. Be careful not to spill on electric wires where the insulation may get damaged and arching may ensue.
Some chemicals are destructive to textiles, so avoid using them on textiles. Special care should be exercised when disinfecting seatbelts.
Electronics and instruments:
Use a microfiber cloth to clean electronic displays and glass, as not to cause scratches.
Do not use wet-wipes, products containing citric acids or sodium bicarbonate. These can etch the display.
Most disinfecting agents that effectively kill the virus, are dangerous to people. Provide good ventilation wherever are cleaning and wear protective gear as recommended by the manufacturer.
Typical avionics with anti-reflective glass, for example G 1000, may be cleaned with a 50/50 IPA-solution. Some displays have plastic screens (acrylic, lexan or polycarbonate), for example the GNS 430 and 530-series. Use a mild soap solution instead and consult the manufacturer.
When it comes to instruments in the cockpit, more is not always better. Use as little fluid as possible and keep it on as short as possible to kill virus. Then wipe it off. Avoid getting fluids into the instrument panel.
Before you go flying:
Use gloves for your pre-flight inspection of the aircraft.
If you have special flying gloves, feel free to use them in flight as well.
Use only your own personal equipment. Especially headsets should not be shared between pilots or passengers. Eyes, nose and mouth are gateways for the virus. Using a headset that has been used by others, will represent a high risk, even if the headset has been cleaned.
In a cockpit, a number of switches, handles and levers must be operated during flight. Traditional airmanship has taught us to point our finger and physically touch to verify, even at non-moving items. For instance, we often point at the QNH setting of an altimeter and the heading bug of the heading system. Clean and disinfect every instrument or part of the cockpit that have been touched.
Even with a cleaned and disinfected aircraft, you may still be infected if you enter a small aircraft with an infected person. During the corona outbreak you should only fly with persons in your own household or keep the minimum distance recommended by the health authorities. This means that you may have to postpone flying with an instructor or examiner.
So far about disinfecting your aircraft. Another thing we want to ask you is to be considerate about your choice of destination. We don’t want GA to get negative attention because people fly from Corona-infected areas to destinations which so far have been isolated from the virus (for instance small islands). This is creating considerable concern among the inhabitants which also quite often tend to belong to an age group with higher risk (as a lot of our pilots do).
Please keep us informed about the aviation news in your country
If you have any news or things that you would like to share with pilots in other countries - for instance if you organize a Fly-in that might be of interest or if there is news about airports or new rules and regulations in your country that other pilots should know - please don't hesitate to send all your news to me, Gerrit Brand | Netherlands | email: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone or whatsapp + 31 6 50831893.