GA Copes With The Coronavirus

For several years running, Aéroport de Genève has hosted EBACE in Switzerland, but the Coronavirus outbreak has caused it to cancel for May 2020. Julie Boatman

The general aviation industry has always harnessed a sense of optimism towards the future—the completed first solo flight, the new aircraft brought to production, the historic milestone crossed. So, it was with a collective heavy heart that organizations across its breadth elected to cancel the first round of spring shows for 2020, with the most recent—NBAA’s cancellation of EBACE, announced on March 15, along with its partner, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). The novel Coronavirus pandemic caused these unprecedented moves.

On Friday, March 13, Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In made the decision to at least postpone its spring kickoff held annually in Lakeland, Florida, working with city officials to propose new dates of May 5 to 10. Whether those will stand remains to be seen, as the United States joins the world in attempting serious mitigation efforts to halt the spread of the virus, which translates into the COVID-19 respiratory disease in affected patients.

Later that day, the Aircraft Electronics Association announced the cancellation of its annual International Convention & Trade Show, to be held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel from March 24 to 27, in Nashville, Tennessee. The organization had proceeded on with show plans up to that point, working to raise funds for the hard-hit metro area following tornadoes in the early hours of March 3. No make-up date has been planned yet.

AERO Friedrichshafen, the largest general aviation show in Europe, had cancelled its 2020 event as of March 6, and the organizers have since notified exhibitors and participants that, without a backup date in 2020, the show would simply be held next year, from April 14 to 17, 2021.

Pilots are encouraged to take advantage of general aviation in the meantime—and to do so safely by adopting increased cockpit hygiene and social distancing in meetups on the ground. Cockpit surfaces, including the control yoke, armrests, buttons, and other areas, should be wiped down regularly using the appropriate isopropyl alcohol-based solution (avoiding screens and other sensitive areas), as you should headsets, handheld mikes, and other shared equipment. Flight schools and FBOs have joined in to combat the spread of the virus by adopting similar measures and limiting social events until further notice.

Follow guidance for determining your fitness to fly by consulting the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s aviation medical area on the website. With the unknown effect of the virus and the steps taken to reduce its impact, it makes sense to call ahead or consult the website for any event you plan to fly into before launching.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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