March 23

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Flight Training in the Age of COVID-19

March 23, 2020

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Flight training in the age of COVID-19 can seem like a worrying prospect. We’ve received many questions from students and instructors alike about what they can do to stay healthy during this time as they continue to fly.

Below we’ve outlined a few practices you may want to implement in your own routine as you continue your flight training. We’ve also outlined what we are doing as a school to help our students stay healthy.

The CDC has issued a few general tips to help curb the spread of this disease. These include: 

  1. Wash your hands regularly. Use soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds.If soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  2. Refrain from touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  3. Avoid close contact with other people, especially if you are in the high risk group of people (elderly or someone with pre-existing conditions).
  4. Stay home if you are sick.
  5. Wear a mask if you are sick and must go out in the public (such as to see the doctor).
  6. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue that is immediately thrown in the trash.
  7. Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly.

1. Before your flight

As stated above, if you’re sick do not go to the airport for your flight, especially for ground school. Call your instructor and let them know you are ill and unable to fly. 

You’ll want to check with your pilot school to see what their cancellation policy is around illness. At this time, you’ll hopefully find most flight schools very accommodating.

When you get to your lesson, if your instructor appears sick you should one, ask them if they are in fact sick, and two, consider postponing your flight until they feel better or switching to a different instructor until they feel better.

Before you begin your usual preflight, take a couple of minutes to wipe down the plane with antibacterial wipes. Wipe down every surface of the interior you are likely to touch. This includes the yoke, throttle controls, seat belt, handles, etc. 

After you’ve finished wiping down the plane use hand sanitizer to clean your hands.

Before your flight lesson wipe down the plane interior with sanitizing wipes

2. In Flight Tips

If you don’t already, we recommend all students use their own headset. While rental units can be disinfected, we feel it still isn’t worth the risk of transmitting disease given it sits centimeters from your mouth. If you’re not sure what headset to buy, check out our article on the best headsets for flight training.

If you do have to borrow a headset from your flight school be sure to spray it with a disinfectant spray.

While the CDC recommends staying 6 feet from other people this isn’t really an option when you’re flying in a small Cessna 172. But there are still things you can do to stay healthy in flight.

During your flight if you need to cough or sneeze, move your mic, and cough or sneeze in your elbow away from the other pilot. 

We have been asked about wearing a mask while flying. If it makes you feel more comfortable you are certainly welcome to, however, we don’t view it as necessary because, per the CDC recommendations, only those that are sick need to wear masks. And if you are sick you shouldn’t be flying.

Turn away from the other pilot when you need to cough or sneeze while flying

3. Post-Flight Debrief

After your flight, gather all of your stuff and then wipe down the plane once more. This is to be considerate of the people flying after you who may or may not wipe the plane down. 

Once again, when you are finished wiping down the plane, use hand sanitizer to clean your hands or go wash them in the nearest sink with soap.

What we are doing at Thrust Flight

Here at Thrust Flight we’ve adjusted some of our policies in order to follow the CDC’s guidelines. While you may not be training here at Thrust Flight, we wanted to share these steps so you could encourage your own school to make adjustments if they aren’t already. Here’s what we are doing:

  • Increasing the frequency in which we disinfect our facilities - our custodian is cleaning frequently touched surfaces regularly, throughout the day.
  • Disinfecting aircraft between flights - we’ve instructed both students and instructors to make this a part of their preflight routine.
  • Adding hand sanitizing stations around the facilities  - we’ve added stations in our lobby, near our classrooms, and in the hangar.
  • Encouraging students and instructors to greet each other by waving rather than shaking hands
  • We’ve instructed all employees (flight instructors and administrative staff) and students to stay home if they are sick or feeling ill.
  • Instructing students and flight instructors to only come to the school for their flights and to leave immediately after.
  • Conducting ground schools online rather than in person.

We recommend everyone stay up to date with local government announcements concerning Covid-19 in your area during this time and be sure to continue to follow official CDC announcements.

Do you have more tips on staying healthy while flight training? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

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