A U.S. airline industry group issued more than 50 warnings to carriers in May regarding flight safety, Bloomberg is reporting, a condition it attributed to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus that has caused massive disruption to air travel.
Although it gave no context to how many warnings are normally issued by the Commercial Aviation Safety Team, a group made up of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, unions and airline officials, Bloomberg noted details of several incidents it discovered through NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System.
One nearly empty plane “climbed like a rocket” and caused the flight to exceed their assigned cruising altitude. Other planes have scraped the tails of the planes’ fuselages on the runway on takeoff while others have strayed off course or flown close enough to nearby aircraft to prompt collision alerts.
Airline travel has dropped significantly since government-imposed restrictions were imposed in March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The warnings by the Commercial Aviation Safety Team indicated unusual factors airlines need to monitor, such as include tracking safety data related to unusually light aircraft, stresses from employees fearing they could become infected by the flu-like COVID-19 and possible fuel contamination in planes that were idled.
Pilots have reported unusually light planes due to few passengers behaving unexpectedly, an inability to maintain cabin pressure and a failure to complete safety paperwork because boarding was completed much faster than normal.
“Despite the challenging circumstances, the agency continues to provide the same high level of safety oversight of airlines and other operators that the public expects and deserves,” the FAA said to Bloomberg in a statement. “We are closely monitoring the data we receive from voluntary reporting systems and have increased the number of information-sharing meetings we’re holding with operators.”
Hassan Shahidi, president of the nonprofit Flight Safety Foundation, said ther have been no significant incidents.
“There is certainly a concern that all of these things could be a distraction to crews and could result in an undesirable situation,” Shahidi said.
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