- Most airlines across the world have grounded their operations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic
- In Kenya, KQ halted international flights and section of domestic flights to curb the spread of the infectious disease
- Most passenger planes are now lying idle in hangars while only a few cargo planes are allowed to fly in and out to revamp supply of essential goods
- However, parking of planes in airports is not like parking a car in a garage; a lot is involved before they can be let to lay idle
- Airlines like Kenya Airways (KQ) are now using some of their passenger planes to supplement work of cargo flights
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The aviation industry is no doubt one of the sectors that have been put on their knees by the unforgiving coronavirus pandemic which has a caused a global economic freeze.
For the first time in at least four decades, airports have been turned into parking lots for aircraft after almost every country closed their borders to foreign flights and others like Kenya limited local travel.
The beehive of activities witnessed in airports like Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya, Dubai International Airport (UAE), Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Netherlands) and Denver International Airport (Colorado, US) have been grounded.
Only a few flights land and take off, most of them being cargo planes delivering essential goods to populations that have been forced into lockdowns, curfews and work from home orders.
Even as most cabin crews remain off duty, it doesn't mean every other staff in the aviation sector has nothing to do.
Before these huge pieces of sophisticated technology are allowed to lay idle in hangars, airlines go through gruelling tasks just to ensure they are properly stored awaiting for normalcy to reign again.
1. Engines and exhausts sealed off
Since most passenger planes are out of operation, airlines deploy technical staff to cover engines inlets and outlets with special tape.
This protects engines from elements such as dust and sand from settling in and clogging sensitive equipment.
2. Battery power turned off
Planes have battery units that provide power to run important functions like lights, air conditioning, cockpit displays and entertainment systems before the engines are turned on.
During this idle time, the battery systems are turned off to ensure they are not drained while it is still not certain when they will flying again.
3. Run engines
To ensure the planes are properly tuned, engineers run the engines frequently. This aids in identifying any mechanical problems that may present themselves as the aircraft remains grounded.
4. Heavy maintenance
Many airlines across the globe, for instance, Etihad, have taken this time to conduct repairs and spruce up their planes.
Head of Technical Operations at Etihad Airline Gery Bryne said the company had up to 200 technicians working in every shift to repair and clean its fleet.
Since operations were grounded, the airline has replaced at least 10,000 seat covers in planes it operates.
"I have never seen anything like this before in my aviation career. At the moment, we have at least 80% of our fleet in parking mode. There is a lot of things we have to do which include covering of engines, turning off the batteries, running engines and conducting heavy maintenance.
We have engineers working around the clock maintaining aircraft. They have very intricate components. It's not like parking a car. We have to keep maintaining them," said Bryne.
5. Using passenger planes for cargo
Some airlines have resorted to using some of their passenger planes to carry luggage to ensure a steady supply of essential commodities.
Kenya Airways (KQ) is among carriers using grounded passenger planes to complement the work of cargo freighters.
According to the airline, it is the first time in a period of at least 40 years it has paused almost all of its services because of a global pandemic.
"For over 40 years it's been our pride to connect Africa to the world and the world to Africa. For the first time in our history, we have put a pause on our flights.
But as we do, we can't wait to take to the skies with you again," KQ said in a tweet.
In another interesting report, Kwasi Kankam, a young man who graduated from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has landed a massive job with a top firm in the US.
The young man graduated from the Ghanaian university in 2018 with a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry after which he landed the huge role, immediately after his national service.
Kankam has been recruited as a Senior Data Analyst for AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company which is one of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the whole world.
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