June 12, 2020, ©. Leeham News: In our Corner series about flying during the COVID-19 pandemic, we now look at how different worldwide organizations are engaged to understand the COVID-19 pandemic and how to handle it in an air transport context.
Based on input from the industry stakeholders, the organizations have in the last weeks issued plans for the rebuild of the global air transport system.
It’s important to understand that global air traffic has emerged because the world’s states agreed in 1944 that they needed a worldwide air transport system and ICAO was set up to manage it. Here ICAO’s charter:
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a UN specialized agency, established by States in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).
ICAO works with the Convention’s 193 Member States and industry groups to reach consensus on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and policies in support of a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector.
ICAO is then the natural organization to coordinate and issue recommendations on how the resurgence of international air traffic shall be achieved. For the purpose, ICAO’s international COVID-19 working group, CART, issued Take-off: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis, on June 1st.
The airline industry has supported CART to issue Take-off through IATA, the worldwide airline association. The airline OEMs have provided information about, for example, the risks of spreading the Virus through the aircraft Environmental Control System, ECS.
IATA has issued a document in support of Take-off called “Biosafety for Air Transport, A Roadmap for Restarting Aviation“ and different states are now chiming in.
Based on (among others) the recommendations from ICAO and IATA/OEMs the European Union issued yesterday its recommendation for lifting international travel restrictions to EU’s 27 member states from June 30. The lifting of the restrictions will be gradual, with the implementation dependent on the connecting country and it’s COVID situation.
Take-off has a short five-page header document focusing on the principles for the recommendations, then a very concrete 43-page appendix with details on what to do and by whom, for the different parts of the air transport system. It also gives templates for checklists and control sheets for several areas.
You find the document here. To understand its scope, here the table of contents of the Appendix:
As seen, it’s hands-on and concrete.
ICAO, IATA, and for instance, the European Commission, all emphasize that the pandemic hits different countries at different times and with vayring dynamics. It means, the recommendations shall always adapt to the local situation and to where the countries are in their pandemic cycle.
It also means that measures shall adapt to, for instance, a resurgence in infection numbers and that recommendations will be updated as we learn more about COVID-19.
What is clear is we are now at a time to get air transport going again, while at the same time making sure it won’t spread the virus again.