COVID-HQ: Operationalizing New Aviation Health Requirements in the Age of Coronavirus (Part 2 of 2)

By Adriana Boza (Canada) & Fernando Lopez-Calleja (United Kingdom)

(This is part 2 of a 2-part series. Part 1 can be found here)

We established in the first part of our article how the new Aviation Health requirements are to be implemented into airports in a structured and coordinated fashion – akin to how Safety or Security requirements have been implemented and managed by airports over decades. The introduction of such requirements would result in the development and implementation of a new airport operating model. As such, Aviation Health requirements should be considered across all aspects of the airport operations model, and can be described in terms of Authorities, People, Process, Technology (Systems, Tools & Equipment) and Infrastructure.

Authorities

 Clear accountabilities, responsibilities and governance (covering both airport internal decision making as well as input, collaboration and consultation with key business partners) should be established to ensure the initial and ongoing development of suitable Aviation Health measures.

People

A key first step on the People’s front is to maintain solid communication channels with passengers and airport staff.  The more the passengers and staff know about the current conditions and procedures established, the better the facilitation process will be.   Once the specific guidelines, protocols and procedures are established for the airport, it is necessary to disseminate the information in an effective way.

Airport staff should receive training on those protocols, also, in the use of personal protection equipment, cleaning and disinfection procedures, use of temperature monitoring equipment, lines of communication in case of identifying a passenger that could pose a risk to public health, etc.

Passengers, on the other hand, should receive the information before traveling (airports & airlines web pages, text messages, e-mails, press, etc) and during their journey through the airport, using effective signage and audio messages, with concise information about protocols in place (use of face masks, temperature checks, physical distancing, hand wash, etc).

Processes

Both inbound and outbound passenger processing processes have to be adapted to the new Aviation Health requirements. These processes have to be continuously monitored and modified according to the current risk to Public Health, so passengers can have less restrictive practices to follow as soon as possible.

Outbound Passengers

Source: Modalis/airportQM – Outbound passenger measures to implement by subsystem

Inbound Passengers

Source: Modalis/airportQM – Inbound passenger measures to implement by subsystem

Technology

More than ever this is the time to improve processes by the implementation of new technology.  The additional steps and time added to each of the inbound and outbound passenger processors could affect negatively the overall processing time, but with the introduction of technology, the overall processing time could be reduced.  Biometrics, remote thermal cameras screening at the airport entrance, boarding e-gates with face recognition and temperature screen, remote security screening and centralised image processing, automated sanitization of trays with UV light at security checkpoint, among others, will reduce considerably the passenger processing time and impact positively the passenger experience making it smooth and seamless.

Facilities

Many airports are facing the challenge of identifying different areas required to fulfil the Airport Health Requirements, such as quarantine areas for passengers suspect of having a disease that could be a threat to public health, waiting areas for passengers in order to facilitate social distancing, among others.

Some airports have repurposed less used areas into quarantine rooms, which has reduced the impact on the budget, achieving the required results with minimum investment.  Other element of maximum importance is to review terminal maintenance processes, especially those related with air quality.  Make sure your air control system is up to date and complies with all requirements on air quality (maintenance frequency, filters, air circulation, etc).

 So How Do Airports Get There?

 The first step is to establish a clear objective of what the airport is aiming to achieve. In the current climate, this could be difficult as a definitive and final set of requirements is yet to be set on airports – and a general approach is likely to be required in the first place. Once these objectives are set, the airport should develop a new Concept of Operations, describing both the “as-is” and the future “to-be” operation across all key areas: People, Process, Systems & Equipment, Infrastructure, Authorities.

The next step is to conduct a Gap Analysis between the “as-is” and “to-be” scenarios that enables the development of an implementation plan per key operational area. Implementation follows, ensuring alignment of the solutions and methods across areas. Finally, the last step will see the new solutions being bought into the operation – this may require an “operational readiness” approach which could include small operational trials, or staff and 3rd party familiarisation. Once implemented, the delivery of Aviation Health should be overseen by a robust assurance and continuous improvement process, including independent audit and assessment, and the on-going implementation of additional requirements as those become clearer to the industry.

Adriana Boza and Fernando Lopez-Calleja are part of airportQM by Modalis (www.airportQM.com), which provides audit, assessment, regulatory oversight and advice, ORAT and operational improvements to airports worldwide.

 

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