How does COVID-19 affect flight training?

Stein Mjåtveit

The aviation industry is facing an unprecedented challenge as borders are closing, demand for airline tickets decline and precautionary measures are implemented in order to slow down the spread of the novel Corona virus known as COVID-19. This article will explore the measures taken by the aviation industry to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how OSM Aviation Academy has adapted to the situation in order to protect the health and well-being of our students and staff.


Boeing 737 simulator lesson (with all necessary safety procedures) 

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give advice on how to deal with the COVID-19 situation from a medical standpoint or provide guidelines in any way. For information about preventive measures and authority guidelines, you should refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) and information from your local authorities.

Folkehelseinstituttet (Norway):

Folkhälsomyndigheten (Sweden):

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA): (USA):

Many airlines in Europe and North America are now scaling back their capacity for commercial passenger flights. OSM Aviation is playing an active role as the entire aviation industry is pulling together to limit the spread of COVID-19. Protecting the well-being of staff and aviation personnel is priority number one for CEO Espen Høiby, who co-founded the company seven years ago. You can read the full commentary from Mr. Høiby here.

Adapting to the situation while preserving progress

OSM Aviation Academy has taken several preventive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff, as well as to ensure compliance with government directives and recommendations.

Studentpilot study desk

Student study desk in Arendal, Norway

Our Distance Learning System (DLS) and other tools for online learning have been scaled up to enable the theoretical portion of our pilot education programs to continue, while allowing our students to attend classes from home.

The Safety and Compliance department at OSM Aviation Academy have escalated our routines for disinfecting and cleaning aircraft and simulators, which are now being sanitized after each 1-on-1 lesson at the training locations where we are still able to operate. As this article is being written, we are still able to conduct 1-on-1 lessons at our training locations in Sweden and Florida. We are monitoring the situation closely as it progresses to ensure that we are protecting our students and staff, as well as being compliant with local regulations and recommendations.

At our training location in Norway, the flight and simulator lessons have been temporarily paused due to restrictions issued by the Norwegian government. An increased level of distance learning and theory lessons have been implemented to ensure the progression of our students while adhering to local guidelines.

Pilot Open Days that were planned to take place in March, April and May 2020 have been rescheduled as an online webinar. This enables future students to learn more about it takes to become a professional pilot from the comfort and safety of your own home.

Will the aviation industry recover?

This is not the first time that the aviation industry has faced hardships and challenges. Historically, pandemics such as for example SARS has shown to have a V-shaped impact on our industry. Although it does not serve as a guarantee for similar development in the future, the aviation industry has historically recovered rapidly from outbreaks and pandemics.

IATA Economics Chart of the Week (24 January 2020)

Source: IATA Economics' Chart of the Week (24 January 2020).

Pandemics and outbreaks are not the only challenges aviation has been faced with. The industry has also been challenged by oil crisis, acts of terrorism and war. As can be seen in the graph below, resilience and adaptability has enabled the aviation industry to recover and continue to grow despite these events.

ICAO Annual Report of the Council

Source: ICAO Annual Report of the Council.

It can be argued that the COVID-19 situation is unprecedented in scale, and thus the recovery might look different or take longer than it has in the past. Predicting the outcome of this situation is a futile attempt at this point in time, but it is reassuring that signs of recovery are emerging from the regions which has dealt with the situation the longest. As Forbes reports in this article, Cathay Pacific has been adding flights again to Europe and the US recently. If this positive trend continues, we can hope to see similar developments in other regions as they successfully contain the spread of the virus.


As can be seen in the graph below, the financial crisis in 2008 had a direct impact on the growth of global air traffic passenger demand in the subsequent year. It is reasonable to expect that the COVID-19 situation will have a substantial effect on global demand for the remainder of 2020, however, the data might also indicate a swift recovery as things start to normalize again.

Annual growth in global air traffic passenger demand from 2006 to 2020

Source: Mazareanu, E. (2020). Annual growth in global air traffic passenger demand from 2006 to 2020. Statista.

Check out the Pilot Talk podcast's episode together with VIP/Executive Pilot and CMM Therese Oswaldson, who shares her inspiring story on how she faught her way through the crisis in 2007/2008 and even built a solid foundation for an impressive career ⬇️

Effects on pilot recruitment and air crew

With a few exceptions, most airlines have halted their recruitment efforts to see how the situation develops. Pilots, cabin crew, ground personnel and air traffic controllers have been furloughed in order to secure the survival of their workplace. Some countries are trying to find creative solutions for improving the situation, in Sweden for example, Dagens Industri reports that cabin crew are being offered retraining to support medical staff (article in Swedish), as the demand for medical services increases.

For students that have started their pilot education recently or are planning to start this year (2020), the job market and recruitment needs of airlines is expected to have increased by the time these students graduate in 20-24 months. The challenge for students that have recently graduated, or who are graduating in the near future, will be to maintain their skills and knowledge until recruitment picks up again.

Students enrolled in the integrated flight training programs at OSM Aviation Academy has the benefit of our Career Support program, which among other things grant them access to online resources for refreshing their knowledge, workshops for interview preparation and of course, simulator sessions to prepare for interviews. As we monitor the recruitment landscape in the upcoming period, we will look for additional ways of supporting our students and alumni through this challenging time.

Read more about OSM Aviation's CEO Espen Høiby's comment on the COVID-19 situation here. 

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