Journal article Open Access

Impact of COVID -19 on Pilot Proficiency – A Risk Analysis

Rajee Olaganathan; Roli Angelo H Amihan

Pilot proficiency is essential in the aviation industry to maintain a safety record for successfully operating airlines. The current COVID-19 scenario has made it practically difficult for pilots to achieve the federal requirements stated in Title 14 CFR 121.439 (a) and 14 CFR 61.57 (a) (1). It has placed a burden on pilots to maintain their currency and proficiency related to cost and lack of aircraft access due to furloughs and lay-offs. The purpose of the first part of this study was to assess the impact of COVID-19 on global air traffic based on the data collected from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). The second part of this research study aims to assess the pilot’s proficiency before and after COVID-19 was officially declared as pandemic to identify any threats to aviation safety based on the incident reports submitted in the Aviation Safety Reporting System. The findings show that the highest reduction in flight operations was observed during May 2020 with -70.67 % compared with May 2019 at the global level. Middle East region witnessed a -57.35 % reduction in flight operations. Based on the number of flights operated in the year 2020, the Asia-Pacific region was the most affected region with 4,913,303 fewer flights than in the year 2019. For the U.S. domestic air traffic, a severe impact occurred in May 2020 with a -70.88 % reduction and 532,834 fewer flights than in May 2019 which was similar to the global air traffic trend. The number of incident reports filed by pilots regarding proficiency-related to COVID-19 issues in the ASRS data analysis increased by 1000% during this pandemic period. The results and recommendations of this research study will provide valuable information to the aviation industry that can aid in developing mitigation measures to decrease future aviation accidents related to pilot proficiency.

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