The Covid 19 pandemic has created challenging times for both of commercial and private ballooning. The worldwide ballooning community is now faced with some tough questions: Shall I fly now or not? Is it too risky? Shall I stay grounded? How can I minimize the risk involved?
For those ride operators planning to restart operations when given the green light, we would like to share some ideas and options on how to adjust and improve your balloon operations with regard to increasing Covid transmission safety for you and your passengers. We have collected input from various operators from around the world and will continue to do so in order to present choices and ideas on how to keep passengers, pilots and crew safe from further virus infections. It is quite possible that not all of them may be applicable in your case. However, practices listed here may work with a little tweaking or just inspire other useful ideas. Remember – what may not work for your operation may be good for somebody else. Everybody is flying in different environments and under a different set of rules.
Implementation of some of these measures also demonstrates to the public that all possible steps have been taken to improve passenger safety and that the risk of virus contamination during their ride will be minimized. As different businesses start to open up around the world, infection mitigation will be the key to survival until this virus is controlled (if there is such a time). None of these ideas alone creates a complete solution. However, a series of safety protocols can greatly reduce the odds of spreading the virus during your ballooning operations.
Do you have any more ideas? If you wold be willing to share them with the others, please drop your comment. We will add it to the list with your name. Lets help each other!
Good luck and stay safe!
Face mask can be given to every passenger as a complimentary gift. This can solve the situation “I did not bring my mask”. Cost effective solution is plain white mask. Or you can upgrade to digitally printed masks which can easily show your company logo on every selfie taken by your passengers.
Do not forget masks for the pilot and crew!
Another complimentary gift to the passenger increasing the safety can be one-time gloves now widely (and in countries mandatorily) used in grocery stores. They are relatively cheap and effective however not very comfortable for the passengers. They can be easily replaced by hand sanitizer stations which you can place around the meeting or take-off place.
Basket hand sanitizer station
Some of the operators even plan to install the hand sanitizer stations directly to the basket!. Kubicek can suply one of these:
One-time disinfecting hand towels
Another altrnative, how to keep passangers hands clean of virus could be one-time disinfecting hand towels. We are able to suply those with your logo!
One-time handle covers
Some operators plan to use one-time basket handle covers which will be replaced after each flight – to keep the basket handle free of virus.
Kubicek is offering clear divider panels for compartmentalized baskets to help with social distancing. More information is available in Service Instruction.
Tranpsarent walls dividing the passanger compartments
If you wish to divede each passanger compartment into more sections you can do also. It will require bit more organisation skills during loading and unlading of the passangers. However some operators thinking that way.
Less people inside the basket
One of the simplest ways how to increase social distance inside the basket. Flying less people seems to be not very effective way but further consideration may be judged
- The operator does not fly full capacity anyhow
- The balloon will have lower fuel consumption flying lower temperature. Flying lower temperature usually promises longer envelope lifetime.
- Minimum landing weight problem can be solver using either by small additional weight or using smaller envelope.
- Clients confidence for the operator may be increased when they see the operator's balloons flying.
Basket sanitation after the flight
A lot of operators plan to disinfect the basket after the flight and promote this action to their clients. You can do this by hand sprayers or using Kubicek disinfection inflatable gates – where you just drive through. This footage shows more details.
What can be used for basket sanitation?
We have good experience with VirconS available through www. http://virkon.us . You just mix it with the water.
Cars sanitation after the flight
The cars shall not be forgotten after basket sanitation.
Passenger pre-flight briefing
To perform passenger preflight briefing with proper social distancing can be difficult. Why do not use YouTube? Or automatic telephone message? Or video call? Or any other modern tool?
Some simple questions can be added for confirmation that the passenger seen the whole briefing (remember Fiesta safety videos!)
One of the most challenging part of the balloon operation nowadays. However, several ideas appeared how to solve the case. On the other hand – it is impossible to keep social distance in public transport anyhow.
- Using more cars
- More trips of one cars
- Ask passengers to arrange own transport
- Use of taxi or uber
Some operators are planning to encourage clients to purchase private flights – where the social distancing is easier to handle. Several private groups can fly in the bigger basket separated by the walls. Some operators plan fly private groups only till the things get better.
Selling of the tickets with little discount can also create importat cash flow to cover the essential fix costs. Cash is the king!
Some operators are considering careful temperature screening of the clients booking the flight.
The waiver may need to be updated addressing Covid-19 risks, concerns and liability.
Keep track who fly with who to make tracking possible it is more important than ever to have list of names of the pilot, crews and all passengers for each flight.