The key aviation safety concern during COVID-19 is not necessarily the virus itself but instead the many operational challenges organisations are facing and the resultant large number of changes that are being implemented.
Reference Source: CASA
The many challenges that organisations are facing as a result of COVID-19 are resulting in a number of operational changes. Effectively managing risks related to and resulting from these changes is vital to maintaining the safety of Asia’s (and the world’s) aviation industry.
If your organisation has an existing Safety Management System (SMS), you should use your existing procedures and requirements to ensure that any changes and the associated risks are appropriately managed.
If your organisation does not have an SMS, you can still apply safety management principles to support you to make informed, risk-based decisions.
COVID-19 has triggered numerous challenges for aviation organisations, each of which has the potential to impact the effectiveness of existing safety risk controls. Examples include:
- financial challenges
- significant reduction in passenger loads
- changes to the kind of work undertaken (e.g. shift to cargo operations in lieu of passengers)
- technical issues as a result of aircraft being ‘parked’ for long periods
- significant reductions in flight crew and other staff activity
- human performance impact on crew and other employees of stress associated with possible lost work or other personal circumstances
- adapting to operations under changed regulatory requirements (exemptions)
- crew being unable to access simulators for training and currency requirements
- staff being unable to conduct normal training activities
- limitations on availability of specialist personnel due to travel restrictions e.g. technical specialist only available interstate or overseas
- loss of suppliers/contractors that may have ceased activities/operations due to the pandemic.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia (CASA) has published new reference material which is available free to operators to help them manage the current COVID-19 associated threats we all face as an industry.