Taking a short break from writing about the flight sim world just to document some thoughts I have towards the real world. Specifically the real world of aviation and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic it is experiencing.
Like many avid flight simulation enthusiasts, I’m also an avid avgeek. It’s somewhat funny if you think about it. As much as I enjoy the hobby of flight simulation and enjoy the real world of aviation, I’ve never had any desire to obtain my private pilots license. The amount of money I’ve spent on the sim world could have gone a long ways towards paying for lessons. But either I was too busy in my younger days or now it’s just too expensive. Either way, time (or lack thereof) still plays an integral part I guess. But in any event, I still very much love everything about real world aviation. It might just be plane spotting from my back deck or even travel…I love it all. But the future of aviation is really uncertain at this point in time.
Sure, we all must keep a positive outlook on this. As my long time readers will know, my wife and I usually travel to Europe every other year or so. We were just over last summer and while we had no plans to travel this year (2020), I’m sure we’ll make the trip again sometime in the future.
State of the Airlines
Within the aviation industry, airlines are struggling. Most major airports around the world look like airplane parking lots with multiple runways and taxiways being closed and used for storage. Those airlines still flying are only operating a small fraction of their fleet and routes. These flights may contain a few passengers, but mainly are flying cargo. It’s unclear whether carriers will be able to weather this storm. While we’re starting to see a re-opening of the world’s economies…I’m not sure how long it will be before we see a return of pre-COVID-19 air travel.
The Demise of the Jumbo
Airlines were quick to begin grounding their fleet of aircraft around the world. As previously mentioned, some airlines are storing aircraft at their hub airport locations while others are flying them out for longer term storage in the many desert storage locations. As airlines begin to predict their return to service, the jumbo jet doesn’t appear to be part of their plan. Virgin Atlantic made the decision to retire their Boeing 747-400’s in early May. Delta will retire their entire Boeing 777 fleet by end of the year. Of the approx. 234 Airbus A380’s, not a single one is flying at the present time and just yesterday I heard that Emirate’s has plans to retire some 46 of their A380’s approx. 10 years ahead of schedule.
Long Live the Queen
My trip to London last summer was onboard British Airways Boeing 747-400. A truly magnificent aircraft and my favorite to travel on. While I can’t be certain, but I suspect that flight will go down in my personal history as the last time I was able to fly on the B744. Most of the 744’s are in the 20+ year age range and just simply may not survive this crisis. But of course that’s not to say we’ll never see another Boeing 747 flying into our favorite airports.
Both the Boeing 747-400 and 777 will continue to fly as cargo aircraft for many years to come. While some passenger variants may end up in the airplane graveyard, many will be retrofitted and return to service flying cargo all around the world. This of course won’t be the case for the Airbus A380. Unfortunately, the A380 (passenger variant) wasn’t designed to have an afterlife as a cargo hauler.
Not Just Widebodies
The impact of COVID-19 isn’t just hitting widebody aircraft. While one can argue that Boeing certainly had major issues before COVID-19 was even heard of, the global pandemic certainly isn’t making it easy on the aircraft manufacture and specifically for the Boeing 737 Max. In recent days, orders totaling just over 100 aircraft were cancelled and of course the worldwide fleet of this variant has been grounded for more than a year. It’s truly difficult to predict when or even if the 737 Max will ever fly again.
While not aviation related, I’ve heard that RV sales are at an all time high. At least for now, people are changing their attitudes about travel and will opt to take their entire house with them where ever they may roam. This might be wise for some as everything you need is all self-contained in your RV.
As I said at the top of the piece, the future is simply unknown. As I write this, I’ve been self-isolating/working from home for just over two months. I don’t expect this to change anytime soon. Many tech companies have decided not to attempt to bring their workforce back until sometime next year. Other companies are planning to continue with a work from home policy indefinitely. While I personally believe we’ll continue to see a drop in the infection/death rate due to COVID-19 throughout the summer, I believe we may see it climb once again later this fall as we enter the typical flu season. Again, while the future is unknown…we all need to be prepared for the impacts of COVID-19 (in one way or other) to continue to impact us well into the decade.
Thanks for reading and I’ll be sure to return shortly with a P3Dv5 setup update. Until then, please continue to take care of yourself and those around you.