Dear Readers, Followers and Friends of Afterburner – the Aviation Magazine,
At the very beginning I must admit that postponing our monthly editorial letter for March was a purposeful action. I truly believed the news that started to arrive at the end of February were a bit exaggerated and the situation would calm down after a few weeks. The March editorial published in the last week of the month had to be an optimistic message about the upcoming air show season in Europe and the invitation for aviation events scheduled for April and May.
Unfortunately, the initially local disease known as COVID-19 turned into a global pandemic, announced by the World Health Organization on 11th March. How much of an influence this pandemic has on us, there is no need to explain it once more. Stories about the world being one global village came true and it was already confirmed that affordability of aviation transportation was one of the main reasons the outbreak expanded rapidly.
Today, instead of making plans for the upcoming season we´re following the news bringing up the information about cancellation of one aviation event after another, and it seems that April and May would have just a few air shows all over the Europe, if any. The detailed list of already cancelled and postponed events you can find in one of our articles in the ´Airshow News´ section, and this list would be successively updated.
Most of the airlines is suspending all passenger flights nowadays, the national airlines are focusing only on bringing their citizens back home. We are witnessing the situation that never happened since the launching of regular passenger flights, with the airports full of stored airliners, waiting for end of this crisis. The ´Swiss´ airline, together with its ´Edelweiss´ branch, had to move thirteen of their Airbus aeroplanes to Dübendorf Air Base and park them there, as there was no more space at Zurich airport.
I suppose that never before was the operation of transport aviation followed by so many people. Everyone in the Czech Republic has their eyes on flight performed this week by An-124 ´Ruslan´- flying to China for testing and protection equipment bought there by the Czech government. ´Ruslan´ successfully landed at Pardubice airport on Saturday night. Then, after unloading this long-awaited cargo, the An-124 left to its home airfield at Leipzig (Germany), just to change the crew and fly one more time to China for another shipment of protection equipment.
Nine of Il-76 airlifters from Russian Aerospace Forces are now transferring the group of military doctors, virology and epidemiology specialists with their equipment to Italy. The government squadrons from many countries are assisting in bringing their citizens back home – those are the aviation news we are following now, instead of air show announcements.
It is already obvious, that the 2020 air show season would be at least very limited, even if there would be some events organized in the second part of the year. The military aviation, and the armed forces in general, are currently supporting the fighting against COVID-19 disease, the aviation companies have their operations suspended and starting to panic about accounting, and there are really just a few economic sectors not affected by the limitations and restricted caused by the global pandemic.
Stopping this coronavirus outbreak is now is a priority for all of us. The majority of countries have already implemented the necessary restrictions and precautions, then letting us hope this pandemic would be under control soon. Maybe, in the second part of the year, we would be able to enjoy aviation, as we used to – but today, we better stay at home, working on our photographs from the past seasons, reading aviation books and following the aviation web sites and Facebook pages (including the Afterburner web page, certainly).
Jacek Domański, Editor-in Chief