As businesses consider reopening after the coronavirus shutdown, attention is turning to health and safety protocols. This roundup details the measures being taken by private aviation companies to provide a safer environment for passengers and crew alike. We will update it as more information becomes available and as circumstances change.

CDC and FAA.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have both issued guidelines designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The FAA recognizes that air travel remains essential for the transportation of personnel and supplies, as well as for recovery efforts. At the same time, it recognizes the need to protect air crews. FAA recommendations in SAFO 20009 are:

  • Crews “do not work while symptomatic with fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or after having tested positive for SARS-CoV-2”.
  • Crewmembers with known exposure do not work “until 14 days after the last potential exposure”. Additional guidelines have been issued for those in critical infrastructure roles who may need to return in fewer than 14 days.
  • Face coverings be used in public spaces and when distancing cannot be maintained.

The CDC guidelines (in "Updated Interim Guidance for Airlines and Airline Crew: Coronavirus Disease 2019") include:

  • Reporting any passengers who appear to have symptoms, such as a fever and minimizing their contact with remaining passengers and crew.
  • Using PPE when dealing with any passenger who appears to have difficulty breathing and/or a fever.
  • Treating all bodily fluids as potentially infectious.
  • Using PPE when cleaning the aircraft after the flight and follow specific guidelines for different surfaces to be cleaned.
  • Waiting until all passengers and crew have disembarked before allowing ground cleaning crew on board, and continuing to run the ventilation systems while they are cleaning.

Air Partner has engaged in several international evacuation and repatriation operations during the coronavirus outbreak. The company has recently launched its Air Partner Protect program, and is working closely with its many partners to ensure that necessary security measures are being taken at every stage of the travel process. This means ensuring that all crew follow specific hygiene precautions and that all aircraft undergo regular deep cleaning. Masks and sanitizer are readily available onboard during all flights. Medical support services mean that immediate assistance can be deployed in the case of any medical emergency.

Clay Lacy Aviation has laid out a clear set of steps being taken at each stage of the flight process, under a comprehensive methodology called the CleanCheck Standard. Before takeoff, all passengers and crew complete a health and travel diary declaration and temperatures are taken using a no-contact thermometer. Both ground vehicles and aircraft receive regular deep cleaning and aircraft disinfection services using bipolar ionization machines and ClearCabin microbarrier protection after each passenger flight. Additional protocols have been put in place for the handling of food, including the temporary replacement of silverware and china with disposable utensils. PPE is worn by crew and available passengers. Telemedicine services are available through Medaire, should they become necessary during a flight. Meanwhile, on the ground, airport lobbies and common areas are cleaned multiple times each day and Valet services have been temporarily suspended. To minimize the risk of crew exposure to the virus, overnight procedures have been changed.
"Health and safety is always our first priority. We examined every department, facility and process and asked how we could thoughtfully change to provide the absolute safest service and environment for our clients, guests and employees during COVID-19 and beyond." - Brian Kirkdoffer, President and CEO, Clay Lacy Aviation.

Flexjet has implemented several new programs to help minimize the risk of spreading the virus. Whereas previously flight personnel would use commercial airlines to move between assignments, Project Lift is now transporting them on the company’s fleet to avoid external contact. All aircraft are fully disinfected between each flight, and have been treated with a protective surface coating (Microshield 360) that kills 99.9% of all pathogens. The same cleaning and disinfecting methods are also being used in Flexjet offices and passenger facilities. Instead of commercial-style airflow systems which recirculate cabin air throughout the flight, Flexjet uses a system that pumps in clean air continuously. As an additional safety measure, employees undergo a temperature check at the start of each shift. Any staff who need to take sick leave can only return to work with a doctor’s note saying that it is safe to do so. Since circumstances can change rapidly, cancellation fees are being waived for the time being.

JetLinx is emphasizing the safety of private aviation, given that fellow passengers will be family, friends, or work colleagues rather than strangers. For cleaning and disinfecting, JetLinx are proud to be the only airline using the BIOPROTECTUs system, which creates an invisible layer on surfaces, causing microorganisms to die. This system is also being used in the JetLinx private terminals.

"The health, wellbeing and safety of our clients, flight crews and ground personnel is our utmost priority, and that is why we made the decision to treat all our Jet Linx aircraft and facilities with the BIOPROTECTUs™ System. Jet Linx is dedicated to advancing safety efforts throughout the private aviation industry, and we are confident that the actions we have taken as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will safeguard our clients, flight crews and ground personnel." – JetLinx President and CEO Jamie Walker

Magellan Jets emphasize the safety of flying privately as opposed to commercially, given the fewer passengers and overall lesser contact. The company has created a safety task force whose role is to communicate with both operators and passengers to ensure standards are being met and any concerns can be addressed. All aircraft are cleaned and sanitized after each use, and all passengers must fill out a health screening form before boarding.

“We have added extra communications with passengers and operators, and are doing pre-flight audits of operators, passengers and FBO’s to ensure passengers are taken care off before, during and after the flight,” said Todd Weeber, Chief Operating Officer at Magellan Jets.

NetJets has enacted some travel limitations based on the key outbreak sites. As a result, they are not flying to mainland China, South Korea, or Italy. Additional restrictions are in place, both for international travel, and for travel between certain states. These are listed on the website, and are being updated as needed. All aircraft undergo regular cleanings in accordance with both CDC and WHO recommendations; in addition to regular pre- and post-flight cleanings, this includes nightly deep cleans and immediate quarantining of any aircraft arriving from a high-risk area. ClearCabin is used on all aircraft interiors, creating a microbial barrier that lasts 90 days. All crew are being carefully monitored, and are being assigned to certain locations, allowing for the minimum of commercial air travel to travel between work and home. Testing is also being made available to all NetJets employees at no cost. Face coverings are being work where required, and are recommended for passengers.

Northern Jet Management are offering passengers the opportunity to skip the lobby and drive directly to the aircraft. Hand sanitizer is available both planeside and on board. The entire cabin and cockpit of planes are thoroughly cleaned and treated with EPA-approved disinfectant after each flight. Emergency procedures have also been put in place should a passenger become ill during flight. Meanwhile flight crews are being paired to minimize exposure and to help control spread should any crew member become infected. They are also staying at CDC-approved hotels.

PlaneSense has established a taskforce of staff from across the company to ensure that safety measures are being taken wherever necessary. All planes are equipped with PPE and disinfectant products; they are also cleaned and disinfected between all flights. When clients reserve a flight, they are asked a series of screening questions about their health and recent travel history. These questions are asked again at the time of boarding. Anyone who has been exposed to coronavirus or who is experiencing symptoms will not be allowed to fly. Passengers are asked to wear masks while boarding and leaving the plane. Pilots and staff are wearing masks where mandated by state regulations or in circumstances when social distancing is not possible. Pilots and crew are also limiting their overnight stays as much as possible, particularly near “hot spot” areas. PlaneSense office staff are working remotely.

Sentient Jet is limiting some global operations, based upon frequently updated advice from the CDC, the FAA, the TSA, and the State Department. International travel to some locations is still possible, although they caution clients against traveling overseas unless absolutely necessary. They also warn that international bookings may change at any time as rules and restrictions update. To ensure clients are in safe and virus free conditions, Sentient Jet has drastically narrowed sourcing options to ensure guaranteed control over the safety standards related to crew member health and aircraft sanitization. Aircraft have been disinfected with an antimicrobial protective coating. Flight crews are no longer using commercial airlines to travel to and from work. They also undergo temperature checks at the start of each shift. The use of masks is discretionary. Crew members have the right to refuse any passenger who appears to be displaying symptoms of the virus. Snacks and soft drinks are not being pre-stocked on most aircraft as a precautionary measure to maintain optimal sanitization; however, customer can pre-order both complimentary and premium catering along with any other advance catering requirements.

Solairus Aviation is cross-checking every trip request against CDC and State Dept. lists of high-risk areas. If the company deems a trip to be high-risk, they will advise both crew and would-be passengers. Furthermore, all international trips must be reviewed and approved as being in compliance with relevant country restrictions. Travel is prohibited if a passenger has visited a CDC Level 3 country within the previous 14 days. All aircraft are cleaned following each flight, with additional disinfectant measures being used if a passenger has been taken ill mid-flight.

VistaJet is considering offering testing to all passengers and crew before a flight, according to a recent Business Insider interview with company CEO Thomas Flohr. All flight crew are checked for possible symptoms twice a day. If any do show signs of developing COVID-19, they will immediately be removed from duties, returning only when given the all-clear by a medical professional. Digital thermometers on each aircraft allow for regular temperature monitoring. Additionally, crew will wear masks or gloves as required. Passengers will undergo a pre-flight health screening. A long-term surface disinfectant is now applied to the aircraft, in addition to the standard post-flight aircraft cleaning. In the event of suspected exposure, the plane will undergo a complete sanitization cycle.

Wheels Up promises “Safety without Compromise” All aircraft are cleaned between flights and “Smart-Shield” antimicrobial spray applied to interior surfaces. If there is any indication of a passenger becoming ill during a flight, deep cleaning and disinfecting of the craft will take place upon landing. All cabins have been treated with ClearCabin. The cabin system introduces fresh air every 20 minutes. All on-board amenities have been removed for the time being since these come from outside vendors and complete safety cannot be guaranteed.

XO is a part of the VistaJet team and therefore is adopting the same strict safety protocols, including regular health checks for staff and crew, cleaning and disinfecting of aircraft, and pre-flight health screenings for passengers. Both companies work closely with groundcrews and facilities at each point of travel to ensure that the risk of exposure is minimal.

At a Glance

The following table shows some of the main measures being taken by each airline. Please note that lack of a check mark in a category does not mean the airline is not taking those measures; rather it means we have been unable to confirm at present. Further details are available above or on the company websites.

 

    Preflight Passenger Screening Temp. Check Masks or PPE Onboard Medical Support Disinfecting Aircraft Crew Screenings Changes in Crew Travel Catering Changes Cancellation Policy Changes
Air Partner  X  X X X X X    X  
Clay Lacy X X X X X X X X  
Flexjet   X     X X X   X
Jet Linx         X X   X  
Magellan Jets X       X X      
NetJets X   X X X X X    
Northern Jet     X X X X X    
PlaneSense X   X   X X X    
Sentient  X   X   X X X X  
Solairus X       X X      
VistaJet X X X X X X      
Wheels Up     X   X X   X  
XO X X X X X X      

Information regarding coronavirus and travel is changing on an almost daily basis. While the information provided in this article is, to the best of our knowledge, accurate, we advise you to check with your provider for the most current information. And let us know about any updates, by contacting us below.