Coronavirus (COVID-19) and it's Impact on Aviation and the Bay Area
For the very latest updates on my flight/instruction status and COVID-19 Protocol details ...
Please read my COVID-19 Protocol page for the very latest on my flight/instruction status and my COVID-19 Protocol details.
The spread of the coronavirus has changed, and continues to change, the world. We are all now intimately familiar with the term "social distancing" — a term that most of us had never even heard until just a few weeks ago. Many of us are now under some form of shelter in place, or stay at home orders. And our daily lives are being significantly impacted in numerous ways, most of which are far more important than aviation. None-the-less, this impact includes a significant curtailment of aviation and flight activities.
Below are my answers to your questions about how aviation and flight training, and my services in particular, are being impacted by COVID-19. I also provide some links to various resources that support my evaluation of the rules and guidance, as well as some general resources for learning more about, and tracking, the coronavirus.
[Some years ago, when I worked at Xerox PARC, I was part of a team who did some seminal work on — and a practical application of — Epidemic Algorithms. So I learned a lot about epidemics, and how viruses spread. As a result, I have a very healthy respect for such things.]
What is the Medical Risk of Providing Flight Instruction at this Time?
The flight instruction environment — instructor and client/student sitting together in a cockpit, within inches of each other, touching the same controls, knobs, and buttons, constantly speaking either to each other or to ATC, etc. — is contrary to the precautions recommended by the medical community (social distancing, frequent hand washing, alcohol wipes, etc.). One of the biggest problems is that COVID-19 is highly contagious, even in the early stages before an infected person is showing and symptoms. This means that possible strategies, such as not flying if either the instructor or the client are showing a fever, coughing, sneezing, etc. are not sufficient to protect one from the other. The good news is that if both client and instructor wear properly fitting N95 grade masks (among other precautions) these risks can be mitigated. Please read my COVID-19 Protocol to better understand these precautions.
Unfortunately, with the current resurgence of the virus, and the lack of compliance by so many people with mask wearing and social distancing rules and guidance, I currently feel that even dual (client and instructor) wearing of N95 masks is not sufficient to deal with the potential virus threat.
Independent of the Medical Issues, is Flight Training Currently Allowed?
As of June 5, 2020, my reading of the current state and county COVID-19 related orders, in conjunction with federal and other guidance, is that flight instruction is allowed with appropriate safeguards.
When Will Your Flight Training and Pilot Services Resume?
As of July 4th, 2020, I have once again suspended instruction due to the resurgence of the virus. As before, I do not have a particular date in mind as to when I will resume instruction. I will continue to monitor the virus situation and will restart when I once again feel that it is relatively safe to do so (with the right precautions) and the situation is manageable.
Official Links for COVID-19 Orders and Information
Here are some links that you can use to get the latest, official, information about the virus and applicable restrictions, recommendations, and guidelines:
County of Santa Clara: Public Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) Data Dashboard, Public Health Orders and FAQs
Here are some links to a few sites that are tracking the very latest data: