NBAA is urging business aircraft operators to strengthen their preflight planning checklist by incorporating direct contact with ground facilities into their routine to ensure essential services are available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 crisis has impacted the National Airspace System (NAS), and at times ATC facilities have had to operate at diminished levels, ranging from limited staffing to ATC alert and even ATC Zero. The FAA’s protocols informing NAS users of such events have been robust, but FBOs and other ground service providers offer no centralised alert system if they, too, are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
“We are seeing a number of impacts on the NAS on a daily and even hourly basis, so it is imperative that all business aircraft operators adequately preflight plan,” said NBAA director, air traffic services and infrastructure, Heidi Williams. “Operators need to be their own advocates. NOTAMs and advisories are essential, but they cannot be the only source of information during this crisis. As part of a prudent preflight process, operators should be calling ahead to ensure the services that are needed at the destination are readily accessible,” she added.
The pandemic’s potential impact on air traffic services can be sudden, even occurring mid-flight, so operators should also increase their fuel reserves to anticipate diversions that may extend beyond the alternate airports expected for a destination. “This national emergency has created a very fluid situation that requires enhanced procedures to maintain the highest level of safety. The business aviation community is ready to meet this challenge and by adapting preflight checklists we will continue to be a vital part of our nation’s response to this crisis,” said Williams.
To help the business aviation community during the COVID-19 crisis, the association has created NBAA News Hour, a free webinar series that provides expert advice to the industry’s most pressing issues, including operations and crew scheduling, legal and medical advice, aircraft cleaning, maintenance and other valuable resources, such as how to obtain real-time information on ATC service changes impacting FAA facilities.