“Just because you can, does not mean you should” - Alaskan Airmen Association's Response to COVID-19 

With the world in lockdown, confusion is growing about what we can and can’t do. This sentiment couldn't ring more true for those in the aviation industry. TracPlus attended Alaska Airmen Association’s latest web conference surrounding the details of COVID-19 practices in the aviation industry in Alaska. Spokesperson Adam White spent time explaining the governmental, local and community processes that have been put in place to ensure that all stay safe out there. Here’s more about what was discussed.

What are the current restrictions?

Interstate travel has had a 14-day self-isolation period for those travelling, however, there are some exemptions.

People who are entering the state via personal aircraft must now fill out entry forms via email so that you can comply with health mandates.

Operators that are supporting critical infrastructure are allowed to travel within the state, and all non-essential travel should be limited to necessary journeys. 

If leaving a village, a 30 day isolation period is mandated on return. This works towards limiting the potential transmission of COVID-19 carriers. 

Unless you have a really big aeroplane, the 6ft radius cannot be applied. It is advised that all flying is kept to a minimum and people do not leave their residence for things that are not classified as essential. 

"This is about protecting your neighbour, the elderly person down the street, protecting them from the virus. This is not about you, it’s about protecting those around you.” - Adam White

Essential Services

Essential service is a term we are becoming readily familiar with. But what actually defines an essential service? 

  • Healthcare workers
  • Aircraft maintenance providers
  • Air traffic controllers (only at bigger airports)
  • Air taxi's
  • Essential goods transporters

In Alaska, the term ‘essential service’ is creating confusion. Alaska is an aviation-centric state where the dependence on aircraft is far higher than in other regions around the world. Due to the lack of roading and dependence on flight services to provide transportation of goods and people around the state, many operators have an aspect of business which may be considered essential. 

The government has mandated that if you are not supporting critical infrastructure, you are not allowed to travel within the state — similar to many nations around the world. Businesses must submit plans to confirm they are essential service providers.

Aircraft maintenance workers are considered an essential service. They are providing crucial services to those who are operating essential aircraft like air taxies and cargo transporters. However, preventative maintenance on personal aircraft is being delayed unless the owner of the aircraft can legally fix/maintain the asset.

Aircraft maintenance AD’s have been extended to in relation to the COVID outbreak. Compliance periods have been extended to complete aircraft maintenance ensuring that there is less time pressure on operators and maintenance providers. 

Should you be flying? 

When it comes to flying in Alaska, just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Pilots must think about the interactions that come with getting an aircraft ready for flight (fuelling, contact with others etc), the possible contact where the virus can transfer from person to person. Limiting contact is crucial to flattening the transmission curve. 

Pilots must also think about the consequences or any incident or accident. If you crash or break down and require essential emergency services, you will require a S&R provider, with PPE. As it stands, our Emergency Services are under-resourced and overworked. These added risks could add to this strain.

“Don’t be foolish. It’s hard not to have the social interaction that we are used to. Alaskans like to be anti-social on our own terms. There’s something about Alaskans that when the government is telling us to do something, there’s a sense of ‘I don’t want to.’

Avoidable incidents will only extend the amount of time the lockdown period occurs. So it’s safer not to fly, if you don’t have to.

If you’re not flying, what can you do?

The biggest take away from the conference has been the idea that operators should be using this downtime to improve/revisit aircraft standards and improve their knowledge base.

For many pilots this will be the only time where they can actually take time away from the practical side of the business and develop the skills that they use every day, making their processes better when they do return to flying. 

“This is the perfect time to sit there and do your own flight reviews, you can go online and do online courses that are free to use and full of information, including interactive video and other useful tools.”

White advised operators to use this time for self-improvement.

Consider going back and retaking classes, improving your knowledge and refreshing yourselves with content relevant to devices and processes you use every day. This is the perfect time to sit there and do your own flight reviews.

People are able to go online and complete online courses that are free to use and full of information, courses can include interactive video, interactive tutorials that are specifically designed to teach important aircraft information, you can always learn more, so why not take the time when you have an opportunity.

There are many actions that operators and communities can take and implement into their lives. 

For more information from the COVID-19 webinar, visit Alaska Airmen’s Association on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Recommended Articles

Aicraft Tracking in Alaska

To ensure they never lose touch, Alaskan Aviators need a tracking system that they can trust. TracPlus offers reliable tracking and two-way text messaging between aircraft, offices, operations centers or to your loved ones.
Never lose sight of your most valuable assets.

Learn More