Alexandria, VA (March 13, 2020) – The Flight Safety Foundation today urged world governments and civil aviation authorities to “act with greater urgency, cooperation, and resources” in dealing with the threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The world’s leading experts in aviation safety said disjointed and fractured decision-making can lead to unintended consequences and sub-optimal choices that erode efficacy and increase the dangers of air travel.
“We cannot and should not be taking travel bans lightly. We need to understand what will work to control the spread of the virus and what will not,” said Hassan Shahidi, president and CEO of Flight Safety Foundation. “Similarly, if we are going to disinfect every aircraft and airport, we need to do that in a way that will actually eliminate the threat of the virus as quickly as possible. Sharing information and best practices is key to the proper allocation of scare resources in a time like this.”
The Foundation strongly recommended that all governments and leading aviation organizations join International Civil Aviation’s (ICAO) Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA) and make available central points of contact for the latest updates, information sharing, and decision making.
Shahidi noted that airlines and airports around the world are taking extraordinary measures to clean and sterilize airport facilities and aircraft between flights and are implementing procedures that in many cases exceed World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.
“The situation is changing day by day and hour by hour. We will get through this by working together and understanding the root causes so they can be eliminated,” he said.
He urged everyone—passengers, carriers, crews, regulators controllers, airports, and maintenance personnel—to closely follow the guidance and recommendations issued by the two foremost UN bodies with expertise and authority in this area: the WHO and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), with assistance from leading health agencies like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We have come too far in combating threats to civil aviation to have ill-conceived answers to this pandemic virus that will inalterably change our way of life and destroy the air travel industry,” said Shahidi. “We need to act quickly to support efforts to stop the spread of the virus, while working to get our aviation system back up and running once the dangers have passed.”
Shahidi emphasized that the coronavirus generally does not affect the safety of flight itself.
“The dangers of the virus are in the close contact people have when they are in group situations just like in a grocery story or movie theater,” he said. “Once we get this system back up and running, airports, aircraft and air travel will remain as safe as they ever were and the sooner we can get life back to normal, the better.”
About Flight Safety Foundation
Flight Safety Foundation is an independent, nonprofit, international organization engaged in research, education, advocacy and communications to improve aviation safety. The Foundation’s mission is to connect, influence and lead global aviation safety.