While pilots in many places are taking advantage of the COVID-19 downtime and getting some flying done, the U.K. is strongly suggesting that recreational pilots hang up their headsets until physical distancing measures are relaxed. The government has not prohibited recreational flying but it has suggested that those who don’t fly to provide essential services limit their activity to a few narrowly restricted types of flights and to only fly solo. Flight training, in particular, is frowned upon. The authorities say the rationale is that they don’t want air traffic services to be burdened by handling non-essential flights and they don’t want an accident to divert rescue and medical resources away from the COVID fight.
Under the government guidelines, non-commercial GA flights in everything from balloons to helicopters should be limited to ferry flights for maintenance when the maintenance required can’t be obtained at the aircraft’s base airport, post-maintenance test flights and “engine health flights” that are specifically required by the engine manufacturer. In the absence of the manufacturer’s requirement, operators are being urged to prevent internal corrosion by winterization or inhibition.
So far, the government says it is satisfied with the response from private pilots and the guidelines will remain as guidelines. “The message we are receiving from the GA community is that they fully appreciate the need for these restrictions, and observing them is being widely encouraged throughout the community,” the government guidance says. “Because the directive to stay at home is being well observed, we do not perceive a need to introduce a specific ban on flying by visual flight rules (VFR) as seen in some European countries.”