The worsening COVID-19 situation in some parts of the world means that EASA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have jointly developed some new recommendations to minimise the health risks of aviation operations to and from China.
At the bottom of the article you can download a short summary PDF of these actions.
The aim of these new, temporary measures is to reduce the risk of geographical spread of the virus and also to reduce the likelihood of transmission during air travel. In aviation today we talk about the concept of an Integrated Management System to keep our system safe. This means looking beyond traditional "aviation" safety at areas including "cyber", "security" and, in this case "health".
Whether you are an operator, an airport or another type of organisation it is important to consider these health safety risks within your operational activities.
EASA and ECDC have jointly published an addendum to the European Aviation Health Safety Protocol (AHSP) and also a press release to highlight the key points. This article provides a quick summary of these documents and the key recommendations.
The new measures that are recommended:
Here are the main measures that are recommended for EU Member States airlines and airports to put in place for flights arriving in the EU from China. These are temporary measures designed as a precautionary approach that is aligned with the risk assessment from ECDC and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
- Aircraft operators to introduce pre-departure testing for passengers on direct and indirect flights. This would be done through a negative COVID-19 test taken not more than 48 hours prior to departure from such areas, and in line with ICAO standards for testing (operators having the responsibility to check pre-departure testing before onboarding). More guidance on testing in Section 2.1 of the AHSP Addendum.
Protection of crew members and passengers:
- Wear medical face masks on board the aircraft for both passengers and crew on flights to and from these areas. More guidance on use of medical face masks in Section 2.2 of the AHSP Addendum.
- Implement personal hygiene and health measures for both travellers and aircraft/ airport personnel.
- Wherever possible, consider the vaccination status of crew members before assigning staff for duty on routes to China. More guidance on use of medical face masks in Section 2.4 of the AHSP Addendum.
- Enhance cleaning and disinfection of aircraft serving these routes. Guidance on this topic can be found in EASA Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) 2022-03.
Monitoring and surveillance:
- Random testing may also be carried out on a sample of arriving passengers. Such positive tests should be sequenced, so as to gain early information on any new variants emerging in the region of origin. More guidance on random testing in Section 3.1 of the AHSP Addendum.
- Monitor waste water at airports with international flights and aircraft arriving from China to monitor the level of infection and detect any new variants. More guidance on random testing in Section 3.2 of the AHSP Addendum.
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