We’ve probably all wondered what it would be like to be a private pilot, travelling the world alongside important clients heading off on their vacations or securing business deals from 35,000 feet up! However, as the COVID-19 pandemic grounds the travel industry (pun intended), we wanted to hear, first-hand, how the crisis has affected the private aviation sector. We were fortunate enough to speak with private pilot Ryan Stanton, in order to gain an insightful look into the life of a pilot during these troubled times …
What does a typical day as a pilot consist of?
A normal flight duty would start by arriving to the aircraft 60-90 minutes before departure. Firstly, I’d start by downloading all the required paperwork for the day onto the iPad and read through the flight pack. I’ll check for any amendments that need to be made, phone operations, and print the plogs (Pilot Log).
Next, I’ll ensure the coffee, hot water, newspapers and catering is being delivered to the aircraft and then to the jet myself. It’s important to complete both the exterior walk around and cockpit setup (system tests, load flight plans etc.). Before the passengers arrive, the captain and I will brief the day ahead. Once the briefing is complete, we’re ready for departure.
If we have passengers, we will introduce ourselves, load their luggage, get them onboard and give them a safety demonstration before take-off. Depending on how many flights there are in the day, it’s much the same between them, just expedited (as everything was covered in detail before the first flight of the day). After the day’s last flight, the process is reverse. Unload the passengers and their luggage, clean the aircraft, place all the protective covers over it, do a post-flight walkaround and leave secure ready for the next flight. We discuss how the day’s flying went, cover anydebrief points or questions and then go home.
Have you seen a change in your customer demographic in the last few weeks?
There hasn’t been much of a change in our demographic, but more in our demand. Aviation is a seasonal industry with the majority of the business coming in during the Summer. The first three months of the year can be slow, but that is expected. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 increased demand prior to the strict lockdown restrictions.
What extra measures have you had to adopt for health and safety since the pandemic started? Are there extra precautions to ensure its crews remain virus free?
I can only talk from the experience of my company on this; however, they have been very proactive in trying to keep the crews healthy. Business aviation is a more personal experience and the aircraft are smaller, so social distancing (2m rule) is challenging. Every flight is risk assessed, all our passengers need to fill out a questionnaire, the aircrafts are returned to base after every flight (no night stops) and the aircraft is cleaned after every flight. All the planes have been loaded with multiple hand sanitizers, face masks and disinfecting wipes for the use of crew, as well as passengers.
The business aviation industry has a track record of providing humanitarian assistance during times of need, what can the government be doing to assist the industry in this time of need?
The governments furlough scheme is great and helping a lot of businesses out across all sectors. The problem with aviation is that it has large expensive assets; aircraft are huge expenses when just they are just sat on the ground. Of course, the government can call on business aviation to rescue citizens abroad, but they’re usually large groups of passengers and it’s not cost effective for them. They can (and do) charter large airline aircraft for this. Every business has a knock-on effect to the next, it would be easy to reduce the parking costs of the aircraft on the ground, but then airports would be closing.
Have any of your recent flights been used to courier critical materials to people in hard-to-reach places and facilities?
My last flights have been to courier aircraft parts to a stranded aircraft after one of its wheels blew, another to take a very sick women to a hospital appointment. We had to take the aircraft parts because anything that went land side (land side is the area of the airport that is open to the public) in this county had a mandatory 2-week quarantine. So, we parked next to the other aircraft, unloaded what they needed and left without going land side. With the hospital flight, we can fly into airports much closer as we don’t need as many services or as much runway. This allowed our passengers a shorter journey to the hospital and quicker return home.
When travel is essential, what are the main benefits of flying private right now?
The biggest advantage to flying private is always convenience! We leave when you want to, we can get you closer and it’s a more tailored experience. We use private terminals that are far less overcrowded, the security is much faster and they’re much cleaner. Once onboard, you will be the only people/person there, so you don’t need to worry about where everyone else has been. There are much fewer interactions, giving you a much safer experience traveling in this time.
Where travel is necessary, chartering a private jet will reduce the number of people you come into contact with. Our experienced team are continuously monitoring the current situation and are on hand to guide you through the latest airport updates.
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jetlogic Ltd. is not a direct or indirect "Air Carrier". jetlogic Ltd, as agent for its clients arranges flights on aircraft operated by FAR Part 135 or 121 air carriers of foreign equivalent ("Operators"), who shall maintain full operational control of charter flights at all times. Operators providing services must meet FAA or EASA/JAR safety requirements as well as additional safety standards established by jetlogic Ltd. jetlogic Ltd services are provided in accordance with 14 CFR Part 295 requirements.