How lockdown measures affect Merseyflight
Following our premature announcement to resume operations on 1st June, HM Government have (unsuprisingly) issued the following:
In a nutshell, the guidance states that flight training can not resume until social distancing measures are, to all intents and purposes, removed.
Merseyflight therefore remains temporarily closed to the public.
All Merseyflight trial lesson vouchers with expiry dates after 24th March 2020 will be automatically extended by at least 12 weeks and as appropriate according to the duration of the UK lockdown.
Please note that our telephone lines are currently unmonitored. However, you can contact us in the meantime via our contact form , by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting our Facebook page.
Our online shop is still open for business and we would like to thank all of our staff, members and customers for their ongoing support.
Please monitor this page for further announcements as more information becomes available.
Preparing for the resumption of flying
Updated 21st May 2020
What we are doing
We are currently in the process of producing detailed risk assessments and working methods in order to ensure Merseyflight is a Covid-19 secure environment. We hope to announce a date for the school reopening soon.
What you can expect; some dos and don’ts for when we eventually reopen:
- Don’t come to the flying school if you are feeling unwell or are showing any flu-like symptoms.
- Do arrive at your slot time. You will only be able to access the premises once the previous student has left and the staff have sanitised the aircraft, facilities and equipment. If you are early, please wait in the car park; your instructor will come out to the security gate to test your temperature with a non-contact thermometer. If your temperature is raised above normal levels you will be asked to return home.
- Do try to avoid touching door handles, keypads, telephones, computer equipment etc. Booking out can either be done via your own mobile or alternatively the instructor will do this for you. The electronic tech log will only be updated by the instructor for the time being.
- Do have your own headset – this is for your own safety. Please ensure you also have all of your own flight equipment with you.
- Do wash your hands at least (1) on arrival, (2) prior to and after checking out the aircraft and (3) immediately after the flight. Guidelines on handwashing can be found below.
- Do be well prepared for your lesson; make sure you have read the relevant chapters of your APM Vol. 1 and have studied the online material from the ‘Course Resources’ area on your dashboard. We also strongly advised you revise your theory during the lockdown – whether you have passed your exams or not!
- Do expect to have more than one check ride / revision flight prior to regaining school currency. This is in line with best practices.
- Don’t remain on-site longer than necessary. Post flight de-briefs will be kept to a minimum. Your instructor will update your training record immediately following your flight so that you can self-debrief by accessing your online account.
- Do be prepared for disruption to the schedule – remember that ATC will be operating under restrictions too.
- Do be prepared to fly with an instructor who may not be your usual instructor. Initially, at least, we will be limiting our operations. However, please do also rest assured that all rostered staff will be experienced, unrestricted flight instructors.
- Do consider other students when booking slots. Booking confirmations will be subject to fair allocation to all of our student’s requirements and needs. If necessary we will extend our opening hours in accordance with demand.
- Do familiarise yourself with all the current, relevant guidance which has been issued. You can find links below.
What you can do: Trial Lesson voucher holders
At the moment all we can ask you to do is please be patient and monitor our website and facebook page for further information. Merseyflight vouchers which have expired over the duration of the lockdown will be extended appropriately. If you have a third party voucher not issued by Merseyflight the you should contact the issuing company for further advice.
What you can do: Student pilots and Flight Crew Licence holders
It’s not quite time yet, but PPL/LAPL holders and student pilots should be turning their mind to specific preparation for their return to the skies.
- If you do not have your own headset then please acquire one before your next flight. The use of shared school headsets will be, at best, restricted.
- Equip yourself with a face mask/covering and any other PPE you feel that you need. We will have a limited stock of disposable PPE but as a pilot you should primarily take responsibility for your own health. Consider also carrying hand sanitiser and alcohol wipes in your kit.
- If you intend to eventually take a passenger with you, are you in compliance with (i) the 90 day rule and (2) does this comply with the current government guidance; i.e. is it someone from your household?
- Check your licensing documents. Is your SEP still valid? If not, have you been issued an SRG1100F?
- Is your medical still valid? If not, is it covered by the published exemptions?
- Consider purchasing hours and landings up-front. All payments moving forwards will be by card (ideally contactless) or electronic means where possible.
- Ensure you have read all the relevant and current guidance. Links are provided below.
Our interpretation of the guidance
NB: This article was published shortly before the updated HMG/DfT/CAA guidance on 15th May.
14th May 2020
Towards the end of March 2020 the UK Goverment introduced the Coronavirus lockdown measures which included:
- An edict to stay at home;
- To only make essential journeys;
- A list of non-essential business that must close.
Although flying schools have never been specifically told to close, the general guidance (and moreover the need to protect the health of the public) made closure a necessity. On 31st March the Government and UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued guidance on General Aviation (GA) operations:
“Current Government guidance precludes recreational GA flying.”
However, this was very clearly based on the fact that travelling to and from an aerodrome was non-essential travel, and it goes on to say:
“…we do not perceive a need to introduce a specific ban on flying by visual flight rules (VFR)… This will have the significant benefit of allowing flexibility, and allowing GA flights to resume as overarching restrictions on movement are lifted.”
As of 13th May, the overarching guidance has changed and the personal travel restrictions have been lifted. In fact, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published the following:
“Keep your business open. With the exception of some non-essential shops and public venues, businesses were not asked to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on…”
The list of businesses which must close has not changed (and will not change until at least 1st June) and still does not mention flying schools, driving schools or any other similar organisations. Indeed, there is very little guidance for businesses in this sector of the service industry and the CAA’s silence is not unusual, preferring operators to make their own interpretation of the published guidelines.
On to the elephant in the room: Social distancing. In the Government’s recently published recovery strategy, it is stated that business must become ‘Covid secure’, which includes:
“Individuals should keep their distance from people outside their household, wherever possible.”
“You are at higher risk of being directly exposed to respiratory droplets released by someone talking or coughing when you are within 2m of someone and have face-to-face contact with them. You can lower the risk of infection if you stay side-to-side rather than facing people.”
Specific Government guidance on social distancing in vehicles states:
“…maintain social distancing wherever possible between individuals when in vehicles”
“…if it is not possible to keep a 2m distance in a vehicle, consider additional safety measures”
The ‘where possible‘ caveat is of interest to us. Obviously, the social distancing recommedations can not, and never will, be achieved in the cockpit of a light aircraft. The implication is that we must do what we can to minimise the risk when we do re-open for business.
So where does this leave us? Our interpretation is that we can at least start to consider resuming operations, albeit in a limited capacity. However there is more to do and the decision can not be made in haste. The situation will change as the lockdown eases and more guidance is issued. In the meantime, we are busy formulating a plan and hope to make a further announcement soon.