Health Safety at EASA
The unprecedented changes to our way of life that everyone has had to embrace and adapt to brought changes for EASA as well, as it stepped up to the challenges resulting from the pandemic.
Thanks to a good IT infrastructure and a solid change management mechanism, EASA staff – around 850 people from all over Europe – were in a position to quickly adapt to new working regimes, making use of teleworking arrangements from an early stage of the pandemic. Ensuring the wellbeing of staff and at the same time guaranteeing business continuity was a top priority for EASA management.
Navigating the current aviation landscape
In addition to the Aviation Industry Charter for COVID-19 that EASA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) put into place, a large quantity of safety measures and guidance material has been issued. This has ensured that air operations can continue in as normal a manner as possible while still remaining safe for everyone involved. Some of the urgent issues that needed to be tackled included:
- hygienic safety of aircraft
- application of existing rules around licensing and training
- maintenance issues
Previously simple requirements, such as the need for pilots to fly regularly to keep their licences current, suddenly posed immense challenges to the industry, as flights were cancelled and pilots’ flying hours shrank. Aircraft certified for the safe transport of people were quickly converted for transport of cargo in passenger cabins, to deliver urgently needed protective equipment. The importance of regular and thorough cleaning and disinfecting of aircraft gained new urgency.
Keeping passengers up to date
On the EASA Light website, travellers have the opportunity to follow a number of topics related to passenger health safety. A catalogue covering a large number of frequently asked questions (FAQs) is available, together with information on travel planning and travel guidance for passengers.
EASA will continue to support passengers with information as this becomes available.
Staying connected with aviation safety partners
With an average of 27,000 international visitors coming to EASA to attend events, meetings, symposiums and training sessions on a yearly basis, new ways to meet and consult with aviation safety partners were put into place quickly once these face-to-face meetings became impossible. Regular meetings with national aviation authorities, advisory bodies and industry take place as virtual events.
One of EASA’s biggest annual events the Annual Safety Conference, was live streamed to nearly 2000 participants. The virtual event allowed for an open and direct exchange. EASA also organised two live streaming events as interactive sessions with drone operators for both, commercial and leisure purposes.
Projects and developments
The ‘new normal’ also needs to allow for projects to progress and for new developments to take place. Consultations with stakeholders and the general public are carried out online, so contributions reach EASA, can be analysed and taken on board. Although some tasks and projects had to be reshuffled, business continuation is a key enabler for the industry to get back to normal.
The road ahead - change brings opportunities
Any crisis also presents opportunities. The main challenge is to find the resources and energy for the aviation sector to get up and move on. In the air traffic management sector in particular, it is widely accepted that new technologies need to be embraced, and it is now, while traffic is down, that investments must be made into the necessary technological leap for Air Traffic Management.