“Stay the course”, a piece of sound advice from our friends at AOPA and others in the aviation industry who have experienced this type of setback in the past. Our world and our industry are in a state of confusion. The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has brought the economy and many professional industries to their knees. For many in the aviation industry, this is not the first time we have experienced such a crisis. Most remember the impact of 9/11—our industry was shut down for weeks. As we emerged from that difficult time, the aviation landscape changed drastically since many airlines and flight schools did not survive. People have asked how our current crisis compares to 9/11, as well as how we plan on taking care of our employees and students. The answer is simple: we band together.
As people, we owe it to each other to do our part in keeping one another healthy. Within aviation, this means we should do our best in following guidelines from both the government and relevant health authorities. We should also practice extra caution in regards to sanitation and cleaning procedures, which many in our industry, especially American Flyers, have made a regular part of their daily lives. As pilots, we need to live by the honor code: if you are not feeling well, stay home. Do not return to work until you are 100% healthy. The cockpit is a place where both students and instructors must rely on each other.
As a flight school, we have been deemed an ‘essential infrastructure’ by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA). This means that we will continue to operate our flight schools, which have been appropriately modified to account for CDC workforce and customer protection guidance from CISA. With this unique designation, American Flyers has volunteered our services to the medical industry within the states we operate in, registering with federal and state entities responsible for assisting our hospitals, doctors, nurses and others in the medical field with overcoming this crisis. We believe that this is our duty and we encourage others who have access to or own their own aircraft to participate if possible.
A wise person once said, “in a crisis, be aware of the danger but recognize the opportunity.” For pilots, the opportunity is very much there. Some are frightened about the furloughs and layoffs. What is happening in our industry is temporary. When this crisis ends, there will still be a need for pilots. Airline pilots are still retiring at record numbers. For those thinking about delaying their flight training, reconsider because this too shall pass. For those instructors that are worried about flowing through to the regionals, be patient, your time will come soon.
At American Flyers, we are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our employees and students. We are here for you and together, we will get through these difficult times.
Andrew F. Henley