News From The Aviation Industry With Kevin ByrneHighlights from The Pat Kenny Show
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- 24 Sep 2020
Could pre-flight COVID testing centres open in Dublin and Cork Airport and is the grounded Boeing 737 Max closer to taking to the skies again? They are just some of the aviation stories we will be covered with Kevin Byrne Kevin Byrne, Retired Lt Col & Airport Safety & Security Auditor.
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There are lots of aviation stories making the headlines this morning, and airports are in talks about opening pre departure covid-19 testing units in the airports. In other news, the region of Dublin has now been designated a risk area by Germany and then Boeing's grounded 737. Max, could it be quite close to flying again to talk about all of this? Retired lieutenant colonel and airport safety and security officer Kevin Byrne is on the line. Kevin, good morning.
Good morning, Pat.
Now let's talk about Dublin and Cork airports and what is on the cards, because it's not that you're Raskob to check in and they send you into a room to get tested. And if you're okay, you fly. It's a little more complicated than that.
I think you have to bring a certificate with you saying that in the last sort of 24, 48 hours, 72 hours, you had actually passed a covid test on your completely negative. And that's good in one way because it gives a confidence to the fellow passengers and the workers in the airport. The complication is, though, I've had two medical procedures recently which required me to have these tests before being entered into the hospital. And the first one cost me 100 euros.
And I got the result in six hours by text, which was good except for 100 euros, because my medical insurance refused to pay if the second one was included in the total bill for the procedure. So again, I was doing but it was very efficient, swap up the nose, etc. and they got the result by text and 12 hours saying you're clear to go into the into the hospital. No problem. You're very good. But who's going to pay for is the cost.
It's not easy to do and I'm not sure if non hospital settings would be as efficient as was the case in my own case, you know, so it's not quite as easy as it looks at the moment.
I think they are talking about the airports themselves, perhaps setting up centres. And if you intended to fly somewhere that you go to the airport two or three days in advance, get tested there. So, yes, they would certainly trust their own test, the airport people, and that is what might be required.
Yeah, we need something that brings the confidence I mentioned in previous discussions with you. We need people to say, I like to go on flying. I'm happy to go with my family on holidays, or I have to go on business or whatever it might be. The figures are so slow at the moment, so solo. For example, last month, August in the USA, they're down 70 percent. Even though the business in aviation is still getting back to some system.
The numbers flying are very, very small. It's even worse in Europe and it will remain so.
Now, Kevin, you may have seen the stuff coming out of the CDC suggesting that people are getting infected and during air travel, but nothing is very clear.
You know, did they get it in the airport? Did they get it when they were sitting next to somebody? It's not clear at all. And it does, of course, inhibit people's appetite for flying.
It does it what is the what is a bit as I said, I was in a hospital recently and the filter was used in the operating theatre are exactly the same ones as are used in the aeroplanes themselves. You're sitting in a confined area, admittedly, but you have your mask on and the air is filtered in a particular way. Every three or four minutes, as it may be, the danger might be mixing in the bar beforehand or squeezing in to get your luggage at the end of the trip or otherwise, not maintaining the distance that Professor Leukotriene says we should be doing.
And our washing the hands. If you slip on those, you're probably likely to be infected somewhere along the travel, but not probably in the aircraft. Also, the crew on board are very well equipped. They look like people going into a medical facility.
Yeah, I mean, if you're picking up your bags and the baggage handlers handle them and the baggage handler might be wearing gloves, but then those gloves are handled multiple bags and they might be covered on some bag. So the hazards are everywhere. You just have to be alert to think about every action that you take.
Now, what does it mean for us to be designated a risk area by Germany?
Not good news, I'm afraid. It puts us in the limelight, so to speak. It means that Dublin is regarded as a bit of a dirty Dublin. Now, we would look at that and saying, well, look, you have to arrive in Germany and prove to them by taking a test that you don't have covered again, where is that done? Who does it? And if you have not got the result, you have to self isolate.
I'm not sure what that means in dramatic terms. I am pretty sure it's a bit like Romania where if you are told to lock down for two weeks, they come to your door every morning. A police uniform person will come knock on the door and say, Are you here? Are you there? It's not as casual as it is in this country where they might take your telephone number. They might give you a phone call once or twice in Germany.
And Middle and Central Europe has got a different attitude to self isolation than we do here. So I suspect that'll put people off going certainly for the Christmas markets in Berlin and places like that. Having said that, they also got hot spots, they agree in places like Munich, so and the border with the Czech Republic. So they have their own problems there. And all we've done is get onto their list of places that are hot spots in terms of number.
And now moving on to the 737, Max, there is at least one airline planning to put its pilots into those aircraft.
Yes, we discussed that the Federal Aviation Authority and indeed, yes, the Europeans are moving fast to try and get this aircraft airborne again, as we mentioned to Boeing, have hundreds of these products on their car parts. So in Seattle and places like that that were grounded because 346 people died and they shouldn't have in the grounded in the March 2019 and they're very keen to get back. So with it slipped out yesterday, so to speak, that American Airlines, who have got lots of them on order to replace older models, are going to commence regular pilot training in November, which is really only about six weeks away, and with a view to getting all their pilots trained by the end of January 2021, which is very ambitious, I think.
And then they want to take deliveries if the Federal Aviation Authority do approve them for flying inside the continental USA and perhaps Hawaii and Alaska and other airlines such as Southwest and United Airlines, who have others who have large numbers on order as well. They haven't moved yet, but it is certainly a positive move to get the aircraft out of the car and back into the air again, although it has complications, as you can imagine, at Ryanair.
Can't start, I presume, that kind of process until the European aviation authorities give it a green light.
It's got very complex. It's even a little bit more complex than I thought they had wanted to take their aircraft. Of course, you know, last year indeed. And they should have had lots and service. Now it's an efficient aircraft. It carries more people, it uses less fuel and it makes less noise. So it is a regular reason for having it there. It's more green, if you want to call it that. But the Europeans will have to be very certain that a free for operation in the European mainland and other places.
What the problem is, the European Aviation Safety Agency, it may not run anymore. Its remit may not run in the U.K. The Civil Aviation Authority there may have to certify aircraft are based in the U.K. It's a little bit more complex than they thought it might be.
Now, the 737 was in service. That's how the accidents happened that killed so many people. I suspect it might be a bit like if a car, a particular model of car keeps going on fire.
And pretty soon, you know, there's a recall on every new car that's made eliminates the fault. What would your confidence level be, Kavan? Getting on board a 737, Max?
Well, it'd be very good if the European Union and the Americans got together and the Chinese and the Brazilians and whoever else comes and the Canadians indeed come on board and say, look, we've done all these things. I would like it to be to the standard that a regular airline pilot has no problem with the emergency procedures. The aircraft only has a problem when there's an emergency, as you can imagine. And they say they have regulated that and eliminated it in terms of software and physical flying the aircraft, you could do lots of things in the simulator with these aircraft should have been flown regularly and they have been flown now.
And I think the Americans are about to sign off on it in that regard. The other problem is that, to my surprise, Boeing haven't changed the name of the aircraft. It's still referred to as the Boeing Macs. In fact, they've seen the word Boeing makes it special. So most people, as one Low-Cost chief executive said, don't actually care what's written on the aircraft once it doesn't say Titanic on the side of the aircraft and paint, you know, so people getting onto the aircraft in a hurry don't really mind the expect and have faith in the people who maintain the aircraft, designed them, fly them and certify them.
So after a month or two of this, it'll be a non-event if the aircraft is fully acceptable for flight purposes.
That your air, Miles, are phenomenal because in your work as an auditor and so on, to fly the world where they were, you're fairly grounded at the moment.
But do you know whether you flew a 737, Max, before the crashes? I did once, actually.
It would think it was in Malaysia to China or some such place like that. I lose track of them like that. Most aircraft look the same. And I have to say, you know, I'd be embarrassed not to look at the aircraft. I got on what I thought was a 787 in Dublin to go to Hong Kong. It was, in fact, an Airbus 350. When somebody pointed out that's what's written on their safety cards, said, how can we be in Boeing with an Airbus sticker?
You know, so they look the same. People don't upset. They're much more concerned with the cost of the flight and the reliability of the service. And we can we can put a lot of confidence back into it. However, I think we should do that truly European central system. We can't do it on our own. And there's a lot of fragmentation regarding covid and its treatment in aviation across the EU, as you've just said. And we need really a plan in place to give us something satisfactory by the year 2021, even if it's March or April of next year, because at the moment, the there's an existential threat in Ireland, certainly, and in Europe to all elements of aviation.
And it's a very serious threat. People are running out of qualifications, running out of their expertise, and it's not going well. So I have a little bit of a lack of confidence. I'd have no problem getting on a 737, Max, but the whole covid situation needs to be addressed more clearly, in my opinion.
Kevin Byrne, retired lieutenant colonel and airport safety and security officer, thank you very much.
At Velho Coffee, they love roasting fresh, flavorsome coffee that you can enjoy at home, which is why they're so proud. They're award winning. Velho Tandem Coffee is now available in Aldi stores nationwide. Pick up a pack of Velho Holby or ground coffee in Aldi or order your favorite Vello roast online at Velho Coffee Daudzai.