The government has made it clear that recreational General Aviation pilots should NOT be flying, in guidance published today.
However, it has stopped short of a ban on VFR flights as seen in some other European countries.
“The message we are receiving from the GA community is that they fully appreciate the need for these restrictions, and observing them is being widely encouraged throughout the community,” says the govt guidance.
“Because the directive to stay at home is being well observed, we do not perceive a need to introduce a specific ban on flying by visual flight rules (VFR) as seen in some European countries.
“The above does not apply to search and rescue operations, or where it absolutely necessary to fly to, or for, work. In all of these activities, we expect public organisations and businesses to be socially responsible in the decisions they make, and to apply social distancing guidelines.”
There’s also guidance for maintenance organisations and for flight training:
“Workshops which carry out essential maintenance are entitled to continue (in line with guidance regarding car workshops) provided PHE guidance is followed. Ie, follow social distancing advice and frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using standard cleaning products.
“The GA team in the Department for Transport is well aware of the structural threat this period of non-activity poses to recreational GA, including with regards to flight training (given that training flights are not currently possible due to directions on social distancing).
“We are therefore ramping up work to mitigate any long term negative consequences. Similarly, we are taking steps to ensure that when it is safe to do so, we will continue to fully support the GA sector.
“We are supporting various GA stakeholders in their dialogue with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regarding extending both pilot medical deadlines, and developing short-term exemptions for those who would have required a flight with an instructor.
“The CAA’s initial priority has been in developing these for professional pilots. They are now working on similar measures for private licence holders.”
Image top: courtesy of FlightRadar24