The coronavirus pandemic is affecting large and small businesses worldwide. Nonessential businesses across the country have been ordered to close in concern for everyone's health and safety. The aviation industry has been flooded with discussions on whether or not flight training is essential. Online forums, facebook groups and websites have been swarmed with students and CFIs alike asking what schools are still open or what the schools policy is. It all comes down to, what's the right thing to do?
Flight Training is considered essential, right?
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency: Aviation-related businesses are included on the U.S. government’s general list of essential businesses (CISA) but flight schools are not included on the updated CISA list that was updated on March 28, 2020.
AOPA: AOPA has cited that, "the list provided by CISA is guidance, rather than a federal standard, so state and local officials may follow it or create their own list. It’s important to check your state and local directives to be sure, because flight schools might be among the nonessential enterprises that must close their doors.".
The State of Alaska has also released a document called the Alaska Essential Services and Critical Workforce Infrastructure Order. This document is a list of businesses that are exempt from a mandatory closure, along with some other helpful information. Also, not specifically listing flight schools.
- We are complying with the State of Alaska government Health Mandate 012: Limiting travel between communities to critical infrastructure or critical personal needs - will be reevaluated by 4/21/2021
- We are complying with Health Mandate 011: Social Distancing - Updated 04/09/2020 - will be reevaluated by 4/21/2021
- We are complying with CISA
- We are complying with State of Alaska - Alaska Essential Services and Critical Workforce Infrastructure Order (formerly attachment A)
With the updated CISA document and the State of Alaska list, it seems clear that flight training is not considered essential at this time. Our number one priority for students is safety - on the air and the ground. For these reasons, we are temporarily closed because we are following the Health Mandates and Government Orders. We have students of all ages and genders, and want to ensure that when we do open we are able to operate tot CDC and WHO guidelines.
Some may argue that flight training should be considered essential because they are training commercial pilots. Ravn has closed its doors, Spirit Airlines cut 90% of their employees and countless other companies are leaving hundreds, if not thousands of ready-to-go commercial pilots.
How serious should this be taken?
COVID-19 is a pandemic - a pandemic is a global outbreak of disease. This particular virus has little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, so it spreads worldwide. The CDC states that some people may have had the disease and did not know, therefore spreading the disease to more people. Additionally, some people may be infected and not show symptoms for multiple days, meanwhile infecting others.
All flight school operations should make safety the number one priority for instructors and students. Flight instructors should display sound aeronautical decision making skills before each flight. This includes evaluating the risk of COVID-19 for not only themselves, but the student pilots as well. So is flight training really safe right now?
As for us, we will begin flight training once it is safe again. Safety is our number one priority. We decided to temporarily close our doors March 23, 2020 and will reopen when it is safe to do so. To view the cumulative cases for the United States, click here. This data is very important, because it shows us just how important social distancing is. We feel our part in flattening the curve is more important than a couple weeks of flight training.
How can I get a jump start, what should I do in the meantime?
We are now offering some one-on-one virtual training deals in our pilot programs and financing options.
Call or text 907-746-2290 to get ahead in your training and take the next step to a life in aviation!