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New safety concerns in empty planes

While you would think that a huge decrease in travel would have eased pressure on our roads and skies, it appears that it has actually introduced a whole new set of safety concerns.

The rate of highway deaths has actually risen as drivers speed on empty roads. And the significant reduction in the number of airline passengers has triggered unusual incidents that are challenging flight safety.

Moreover, the slow rise in air traffic is creating its own demands as parked aircraft are restored to service and pilots who may have missed training sessions are recalled.

Bloomberg reported that The Commercial Aviation Safety Team, comprised of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), unions and airline officials, in May alone issued more than 50 warnings to airlines on the unusual factors they need to monitor more closely.

These included:

  • Greater psychosocial risks as employees feared they could become infected by COVID-19; and stress over job security that could affect job performance.
  • Pilots reporting that unusually light airliners behaved unexpectedly, such as climbing so fast that they exceeded assigned altitudes or couldn’t maintain cabin air pressure.
  • Tail strikes, in which a jet on take-off or landing hits its tail on the runway. These impacts, which may be associated with a lighter-than-usual aircraft, can severely damage a plane and lead to costly repairs.
  • The threats of collisions on the runways and other safety incidents on the ground, as so many aircraft are parked.

The air-traffic control system has also faced swathes of controllers testing positive for the virus, prompting the closing of facilities and rerouting of flights.

While no major incidents have occurred as of yet, it is important that we continue to monitor these factors, especially while the aviation industry is still under significant disruption.

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