How pilots keep their skills sharp during COVID-19 downtime

Last year was tough for everyone, and it was especially tough for the aviation industry. Despite the fact that there were drastically fewer flights, aircraft accidents claimed more lives in 2020 than in 2019.

Of the 40 reported accidents, five proved to be fatal. Tragically, 176 people were lost when a Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737 was mistakenly shot down after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport. This accounted for over half the fatalities in accidents in 2020.

In another incident, a man was killed after being struck by a Southwest Airlines 737 as it landed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas. The man had climbed a perimeter fence and found his way onto the runway.

Whilst both tragic, both these incidents are events that we rarely see happen. The other three accidents are sadly all too familiar territory. Runway excursions, events where an aircraft leaves the paved surface of the runway, are a well-known threat to flight safety.

Aircraft involved in accidents in Pakistan, India and Turkey all touched down on the paved surface, but for different reasons ended up with the aircraft either off the side or end of the runway.

Even though each event featured a well-known threat, could the reduced amount of flying pilots are doing have an effect on flight safety? Faced with long periods in between flights, what are pilots doing to keep on top of their game?

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