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Navy aviation orders one-day stand down following several mishaps

After a week that saw two Navy plane crashes, one of which killed two U.S. service members, the head of Naval Air Forces ordered a one-day safety stand down for non-deployed units Monday.

The order by Naval Air Forces commander Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell aimed to provide “an opportunity for our aviation commands to focus on how to further improve operational risk management and risk mitigation across the Naval Aviation enterprise.”

The stand down follows the crash of a T-6B Texan II training jet Friday in Alabama that killed Coast Guard Ensign Morgan Garrett and Navy Lt. Rhiannon Ross.

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Covid-19 grounding many student pilots

“When Covid-19 hit, survival intuition became important for everyone because individual lives and livelihoods were immediately at stake,” said Bianca Baldwin, head of admissions and enrollment at the Academy of Aviation, a Farmingdale flight school. “We had to react, but there was no script.”

Baldwin noted that the school was closed to the public and secured approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to shift to a digital model of instruction. Flight dispatch procedures were altered to maintain operations while all flight school staff switched to working remotely. Fever and symptom screening for instructors and students was done before pre-check of every aircraft, and before-and-after flight sanitation procedures were carried out on the ramp, as outlined by the federal Centers for Disease Control.

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Training Providers Prepare for Post-Covid Future

As most of the world continues the slow process of reopening, flight training providers are grappling with rebuilding their businesses with the new realities of sanitization, social-distancing, uncertain economies, and the ever-present worry of a possible second virus wave and another round of restrictions. At the same time, providers have found a resiliency through innovation that they believe will expand opportunities and provide new flexibility for students in the future.

Early on, as the pandemic set in, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) surveyed about 300 flight schools to determine how their businesses were faring amid the spread of the virus and the associated restrictions. Keith West, senior director of flight school business support for AOPA, said roughly two-thirds had shut down to some extent. That ranged from ceasing operations altogether to those that might have only conducted ground school or limited flight-training operations to students building solo hours.

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