As air travel and aviation in general start to take the first tentative steps to emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown, the reactivation of aircraft that have been parked for the past three or four months needs to be addressed.
Storing aircraft, even for the short-term is nothing new for most major airlines. However, for smaller regional airlines, corporate flight departments, and other commercial operators this may have been a new experience.
So were the aircraft properly stored and were measures taken to safeguard the aircraft’s ultra-sensitive avionics systems? All apertures and openings through which environmental factors – sand, dirt, water, birds, and insects – can find their way inside an aircraft are wrapped up and made watertight. That includes engines and air data probes – such as pitot, static, temperature, angle of attack sensors – engine intakes and exhausts, and APU intakes and exhausts.
Were maintenance or maintenance control staff furloughed? Have calendar-based inspections lapsed? Are the CVR/FDR, ELT, Altimeters, Transponders overdue recertification?
Emirates Airlines estimates that It may require around 4-5 dedicated employees and at least 18-24 hours to put just one of its aircraft back into service.
With the aircraft now ready to fly, what about the aircrew? Recency will have expired for most aircrew unless they had access to a simulator, proficiency checks will be overdue for some.
Start-up procedures will have to be carefully managed to ensure that public confidence in air travel, already at historic low because of the pandemic, is not further compromised.
At Rocky Mountain Aircraft we have some unique expertise at reactivating aircraft from years of improper storage or even abandonment. With our own aircraft back online we are happy to offer advice and assistance to enable our industry to soar back into the skys.