What possible beneficial use of aircraft in the context of the COVID-19? - By Ahmed Haouaria

18 Fév 2022

11 Avr 2020

Ultra-confined and often crowded, in times of epidemics use transport naturally worry. In air transport, the risk of contamination depends, mainly on the ventilation system. However, in the majority of airliners, ventilation is done by two means. First, 50% of the air is replaced periodically by air coming from outside and passing through the aircraft reactors, therefore heated to extreme temperatures, which normally kills the rare pathogens existing in the already almost sterile environment that is the high altitude.The other half of the air is recycled between 15 to 30 times per hour by HEPA (High-Efficiency Particle Filters) type filters. These filters manage to capture almost 99.9% of airborne microbes, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the air in planes therefore normally meets the standards found in hospitals.The places where you are most likely to be infected are two seats on the side and a row in front of or behind the infectious person.For all these reasons, COVID 19 forces airlines to ground their planes.
However, some of the planes continue to fly to carry out a certain number of vital operations necessary in these special circumstances. In this post, I will present a brief review of possible  beneficial uses of aircraft , as communicated by some opertaors, in the context of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

A380s transformed into a hospital ?
Since the majority of Airbus A380s are grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic, why not transform them into a hospital that can accommodate several dozen resuscitation beds? The idea was put forward by British industrialists and doctors under the name of the Aircraft Project (care + aircraft), faced with the lack of intensive care beds in the country hit hard by the health crisis - and the number of heavy carriers nailed to the ground. The A380 but also the A340 could according to them be transformed in 7 to 10 days, emptied of their passenger seats which would be replaced by between 100 and 150 medical beds. It would not be a question of operating flying hospitals, but just of bringing the planes where they are most needed, the places varying according to the pandemic, and to re-equip them once there. One of the technical advantages of airplanes would be the presence already installed in the oxygen distribution system devices; the possibility of hermetically closing them was also highlighted.
The group said it has received support from CAA, the UK civil aviation regulator, as well as from several airports and airlines.

Dassault Aviation places  two Falcon at the disposal  Resilience Operation  
Given the fact that the army air fleet is particularly requested to transfer patients affected by Covid-19, and also to provide missions for the transport of medical personnel and freight, Dassault Aviation announced that it will make "free of charge" available to the Resilience operation of two Falcon aircraft.These two aircraft, a Falcon 8X and a Falcon 900, are fitted out for 15 and 13 passengers. They are operated by Dassault Falcon Service DFS, a Dassault Aviation subsidiary specializing in aircraft maintenance and operations, based at Le Bourget Airport.These two planes, operated by Dassault Falcon Service crews, are therefore available to the Operation cell of the Air Defense and Air Operations Command [CDAOA] of the French Air Force. Fuel is also provided by the company.The Falcon 8X and 900 can land on the runways of small airports, without the need for specific ground infrastructure. And that, whatever the weather. They allow medical teams or equipment to be dispatched very quickly, in France and around the world.
In their daily update on Operation Resilience, the General Staff confirms that these two planes will be used to transport medical freight and medical personnel since they cannot take in charge of patients in intensive care.

A330-MRTT, the Airbus medical plane to transfer Covid-19 patients
The aircraft only entered service very recently in the French army. Made in Toulouse, and intended first for the evacuation of war wounded, or the refueling in flight, it is used for the first time on the national territory, for a new operation. Transfers of coronavirus patients are accelerating in France, to relieve hospitals in the areas most affected by the epidemic. Evacuations by air. And then there is also and above all an Air Force plane that took sick people to Germany. This plane is the Airbus A330-MRTT (baptized A330 Phoenix by the French army). Based in Istres, in the Bouches-du-Rhône, the second copy of the Air Force entered service very recently, in July 2019. This type of aircraft is first intended for the military, the war wounded. Now they are coronavirus patients, and on this occasion, it is the first time that the device is used on the national territory, in this medical configuration. This Airbus is a real flying hospital. The 200-ton, 60-meter plane allows the transportation of a dozen very serious, or 40, lighter casualties. At the moment the French army is using it with Morpheus modules, that is to say, resuscitation beds. For the transfers of patients from Covid-19, 25 soldiers are on board, including 13 caregivers. The MRTT is assembled in Toulouse, like the other A330s, more precisely in the Clément-Ader factory in Colomiers (Haute-Garonne). It is then configured as a military version in Spain, at the Airbus site in Getafe, near Madrid. The plane is very modular and adapts to situations. When it is not medical, he carries equipment. And above all it is a refueler in flight, it is also its primary function.
French Presidential planes requisitioned to transport medical staff
While the coronavirus epidemic has struck France for several weeks, army equipment is sometimes used in the effort to transport medical staff, patients and medical equipment to hospitals. Since the beginning of the crisis, the army has carried out 20% of patient transfers from Covid-19 to France and Europe,They are usually reserved for the President and the ministers use, but the famous "Falcon" planes now carry doctors. "War situation" requires, the army is mobilized in the fight against the Covid-19, and the requisitions also include the government's air fleet.It is the crisis center of the Ministry of Health which charters this type of flight because the entire government fleet is currently available. Even the A330 of the President of the Republic is used. "As soon as a need is identified, the ministry uses one of these planes." The ministry for the Armies specifies "that there is always a Falcon available to make evacuations".
Humanitarian relief: Emirates SkyCargo carrying nearly 500,000 Covid-19 test kits
On Monday, March 30, 2020, an Emirates SkyCargo flight carrying nearly 500,000 Covid-19 test kits landed at Sao Paulo Airport in Brazil. These kits were transported from Canton via Dubai on the first of two flights planned to transport equipment to Sao Paulo. In the same week, Emirates also made two special charter flights carrying nearly 200 tonnes of medical supplies from Hong Kong to Sydney, such as hydroalcoholic gels and protective masks, while another flight transported pharmaceuticals to Karachi.
As part of a special charter operation, an Emirates Boeing 777 also delivered nearly 100 tonnes of relief supplies to Milan, including hospital supplies, while more than 55 tonnes of pharmaceuticals requiring continuous surveillance of the temperature were transported to New York from Mumbai. Between March and April, Emirates SkyCargo will also make nine cargo rotations to Budapest to transport medical equipment.
Meanwhile, Commercial aviation is not totally absent. Some airlines continue to furnish the sky

In Qatar, while many airlines are dramatically reducing or completely suspending their services worldwide, Qatar Airways is doing just the opposite. They added 10,000 seats to their network as of March 24. Qatar has added flights to Paris, Perth, and Dublin from Doha.
Amid a cloudy air period due to the health crisis created by the coronavirus, Qatar Airways announces that it will continue its operations and "bring as many people as possible home".
"Thanks to its state-of-the-art aircraft equipped with advanced air filtering systems and strict personnel biosecurity control, the company continues to operate a large number of flights to bring stranded passengers back to their loved ones", says a press release from Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways currently operates flights to 75 destinations, but this number may decline as countries introduce more stringent entry or exit restrictions.
Qatar Airways has changed its commercial measures to give even more flexibility to its customers. Qatar Airways has changed its ‘’Travel with confidence’’ policy as well as the policy regarding flight disruption due to Covid-19. Thus, the company decided to offer customers the possibility of having their ticket reimbursed, but also, for those who choose to receive a reusable voucher on a Qatar Airways flight in the future, to reimburse the total value of their ticket plus an additional 10%.
Company management notes that deferred travel credit remains the quickest way to help customers while teams are mobilized to handle all customer inquiries.

United States 
In the United States In response to the pandemic, American airlines have considerably reduced their international network. American operates two flights to Europe (London) per day: one from Dallas-Fort Worth and the other from Miami. United operates two flights to Europe: Newark / New York - London and Newark / New York - Frankfurt. Delta is the airline with the most flights to Europe, three per day: Atlanta - Amsterdam, Atlanta - London-Heathrow and Detroit.
In China, the government recently demanded that all airlines operating Chinese flights only fly to one destination in any country, with the obligation to fly only once a week. Domestic flights operate normally, with very little cancellation. Air China, therefore, continues to operate its flight CA933 / 934 between Beijing and Paris, China Eastern operates the Shanghai Pudong - Paris flight and China Southern operates the Guangzhou - Paris. In difficulty, Hainan Airlines has reopened many routes, but mostly domestic. There are still two international routes, one of which concerns Europe: the flight from Beijing to Brussels. 
Maintenance challenge: Air France case
80 percent of Air France aircraft are paralyzed on the ground, including nine A380s, probably for several months.
A fleet of 180 grounded aircraft but which Engineering team should constantly take care of. Every three days each plane is thoroughly inspected.
Each accommodation and interstice where an animal, especially birds, can come and nest is checked by the maintenance team. All the sensors which instruct pilots about speed and altitude are carefully protected. The moisture that accumulates in the fuel tanks is also purged by the engineers who even lift the hundred tons of the plane for an astonishing operation.
Indeed, every fourteen days they rotate the tires of the landing gear to avoid their deformation in the same place. Each week each plane requires 20 hours of work because it is also necessary to check all the flight instruments. With this meticulous maintenance, the goal is to have an airplane ready to fly almost immediately.
A significant but less workload than before the crisis. Orly airport is completely closed, no more planes take off, and yet the work continues. A team persists in keeping a group of pigeons away from the track. The team thus ensures that the birds do not get used to eating on the ground in such a way that when the airport resumes its commercial activity there will be no risk of birds strikes. Another team inspects the four kilometers of the runway three times a day, which continues to accommodate special flights, and the planes bringing respirators and other medical equipment.


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