Return of Air Travel Brings New Risks

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Travel has been one of the things we’ve missed the most out of all the things since the pandemic began.

Many of us have been eagerly expecting a return to air travel, whether for business, to see distant family members, or just to get away from our now-too-familiar surroundings.

 

One of the safest pursuits for people to partake in is flying (see infographic).

However, fresh worries are being voiced about risks that may arise in the post-COVID-19 future.

 

New aircraft, “air fury,” “rusty” pilots and even insect infestations are among the dangers mentioned in recent research from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS).

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Despite layoffs, financial difficulties, and the demands of an overnight transition to remote working, AGCS emphasizes that airline teams have stepped up to ensure that air travel has remained secure. The sector is steadily recovering.

 

According to the research, “there has been significant talk about the threats that may result from such an unusual period, as well as some of the changes the sector would see,” as more aircraft take to the sky.

 

The Aviation Safety Reporting System received reports from scores of pilots earlier this year regarding errors they had made after returning to the cockpit.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) watchdog system, which is run by NASA, enables pilots and crew members to anonymously report technical issues and crew mistakes.

 

Following months of lockdown, “several of the pilots identified ‘rustiness’ as a rationale for the occurrences,” according to AGCS.

“While there haven’t been any recorded instances of inexperienced pilots hurting passengers in accidents, mistakes have been made, such as forgetting to release the parking brake before departure and landing the plane three times on a stormy day.

 

the wrong runway is chosen, and the anti-icing system that keeps the altitude and airspeed sensors from freezing is not turned on.

 

the state of the aircraft

 

Airlines parked about two-thirds of the whole worldwide fleet at the height of the first wave of the crisis.

Many of them are still inactive more than a year later

 

According to AGCS, “this unusual scenario has given rise to a number of new issues.”

Loss exposures do not automatically vanish when an aircraft is parked.

 

Instead, the prices and hazards fluctuate.

According to AGCS, there were concerns about damage among aircraft that were grounded amid thunderstorms in Texas that produced hail the size of golf balls.

 

Large and difficult-to-control aircraft on the ground can result in expensive claims.

There were several collisions when operators moved fleets from runways to storage facilities at the beginning of the pandemic.

Therefore, it would not be unexpected to witness more of these instances as planes are transferred in order to prepare for reuse.

 

The accumulation of foreign items, such as insect nests, in regions of aircraft that give flight-critical air data information, has been described as “a worrisome trend” by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency as leading to “unreliable speed and altitude signals.”

 

The organization notes that “this has resulted in a number of refused take-off and in-flight turn-back events.”

On the other side, there will be a lot of newer planes on the runways and in the air, which offers its own issues from an insurance coverage standpoint because many airlines have retired larger aircraft earlier than intended as a result of COVID-19.

As we’ve previously mentioned, more advanced aircraft require more money to repair or replace after an accident, increasing the cost of insurance claims.

 

An increase in air fury

 

The latest in a string of widely reported events that prompted the FAA to issue a warning about an increase in disorderly or risky behavior occurred in May 2021 when a Southwest Airlines flight attendant had two teeth knocked out during a confrontation with a passenger over wearing a mask.

More recently, some high school kids refused to wear masks, forcing American Airlines to cancel a flight to the Bahamas.

 

According to the AGCS report, there are typically no more than 150 reports of serious onboard disruption per year in the United States. However, by June 2021, that number had already reached about 3,000, with about 2,300 of those reports involving passengers who disobeyed the federal requirement to wear a mask while traveling.

 

Not many COVID-19 claims

 

According to AGCS, the pandemic has not yet resulted in many claims for the aviation sector. The organization also notes a drop in slip-and-fall and lost-baggage claims at airports as a result of the epidemic’s lower passenger volume.

As people resume flying, these claims are anticipated to revert to more regular levels, and insurers will need to be aware of any new dangers that can have an impact on claims experience.

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