A safety bulletin issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) gives its member airlines a series of guidelines to help protect crewmembers and passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The EASA bulletin offers a combination of measures already in practice with crews, along with several new proposals. The document is non-binding, serving as a series of best practices rather than regulatory procedure. While an EU bulletin has no jurisdiction with American air carriers, it could serve as a solid call to action for the FAA and U.S. carriers to review their procedures and implement additional processes to protect employees and passengers.
Here’s what the guidelines call for:
- Carriers are called on to make masks and gloves available for its flight crews, and for cabin crewmembers to change their face masks every four hours while on duty. If the aircraft has multiple lavatories, one should be restricted to crew use only. Flight attendants are instructed to break the cabin into zones assigned individually so that if an infected passenger is aboard, the risk of exposure is to the one worker in that zone instead of to the entire crew. Flight attendants are directed to not touch passengers’ belongings—such as helping stowed carry-on baggage.
- Directly monitoring the health of the crew is also a priority, as member airlines are advised to have crew check their body temperatures twice a day, and monitor for the common symptoms of cough, breathing difficulties or fever. Airlines are called on to develop plans for handling infected workers in various situations—whether they’re in domicile at their home base, working a flight, or on a layover.
- Once off the plane, carriers are advised to provide transportation to the hotel in a vehicle with adequate space to have a minimum of one seat between crewmembers. Arriving at the hotel, crewmembers are to be given one meal upon check-in and utilize room service for all food and drink afterward; flight crews are advised to leave their hotel rooms only for emergencies.
- A long list of recommendations for handling infected passengers is also incorporated into the bulletin, as well as guidelines for the cabin crew who serve the affected passengers. EASA calls for testing to exposed flight crew members and mandatory reporting to inform crews if they’ve operated a flight with an infected passenger or coworker who fell within the window of transmitting the virus, and placing them into a 14-day quarantine.
The bulletin, published March 26, also points out that there are published cases of people becoming reinfected with the virus and that people who have recovered from the illness should continue to embrace all cautionary protocols.
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