ICAO Joint Statement on Ebola Virus Disease

18 August 2014 – The current Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013. This outbreak now involves community transmission in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and recently an ill traveler from Liberia infected a small number of people in Nigeria with whom he had direct contact. On 8 August 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005).

The risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel is low. Unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not spread by breathing air (and the airborne particles it contains) from an infected person. Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals, all unlikely exposures for the average traveler. Travelers are, in any event, advised to avoid all such contacts and routinely practice careful hygiene, like hand washing.

The risk of getting infected on an aircraft is also small as sick persons usually feel so unwell that they cannot travel and infection requires direct contact with the body fluids of the infected person. Most infections in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, are taking place in the community when family members or friends take care of someone who is ill or when funeral preparation and burial ceremonies do not follow strict infection prevention and control measures.

A second important place where transmission can occur is in clinics and other health care settings, when health care workers, patients, and other persons have unprotected contact with a person who is infected. In Nigeria, cases are related only to persons who had direct contact with a single traveler who was hospitalized upon arrival in Lagos.
It is important to note that a person who is infected is only able to spread the virus to others after the infected person has started to have symptoms. A person usually has no symptoms for two to 21 days (the “incubation period”). Symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and in some cases, bleeding.

The risk of a traveler becoming infected with the Ebola virus during a visit to the affected countries and developing disease after returning is very low, even if the visit includes travel to areas in which cases have been reported.

If a person, including a traveler, stayed in the areas where Ebola cases have been recently reported, he/she should seek medical attention at the first sign of illness (fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash, red eyes, and in some cases, bleeding). Early treatment can improve prognosis.
Strengthened international cooperation is needed, and should support action to contain the virus, stop transmission to other countries and mitigate the effects in those affected.

Affected countries are requested to conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection. Any person with an illness consistent with EVD should not be allowed to travel unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation. There should be no international travel of Ebola contacts or cases, unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation.

Non-affected countries need to strengthen the capacity to detect and immediately contain new cases, while avoiding measures that will create unnecessary interference with international travel or trade. The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend any ban on international travel or trade, in accordance with advice from the WHO Ebola
Emergency Committee.

Travel restrictions and active screening of passengers on arrival at sea ports, airports or ground crossings in non-affected countries that do not share borders with affected countries are not currently recommended by WHO.
Worldwide, countries should provide their citizens traveling to Ebola-affected countries with accurate and relevant information on the Ebola outbreak and measures to reduce the risk of exposure.

Useful links:
WHO Advice for travelers

Source:  ICAO


Airline Pilot, Business Pilot or….Bush Pilot?

It was September, 2007. It was dark, I could see only shadows on the street and the particular smell of a place I never been before.  Africa.

Hopefully, when my flight arrived to Bamako – Senou airport it was late at night.  First arrival to Africa is always shocking and one thing is to see it on Discovery Channel and another completely different is to see it in real.  I never imagined that this would be the first step on my aviation career to become an African Bush Pilot.

If asked, most of us can create a mental picture of what means being an Airline Pilot, a Business Pilot or a Military Pilot.  But few of us know exactly what a Bush Pilot is.  The image we have of the first one is of a guy with an immaculate uniform with golden or silver stripes, wearing a hat, walking with secure steps at a studied speed on the airport terminal carrying a flight bag with rolling wheels.  Is the same one we see sitting on the cockpit of those amazing big jets that carry lots of people all over the world.  The second one is the one that flies those fancy business jets carrying all type of important people and superstars, not much flight, a lot of five stars hotels and a glamorous life.  The third one is the one all kids dream to be, the top one of the history, all adrenaline, wears a helmet, boots, gloves, an anti-G uniform and flies those incredible fighter jets, remember Top Gun?

But, what about our friend the Bush Pilot?  We know little about him, when we hear about them we make an immediate relationship with Africa or Alaska, but truth is that we can find Bush Pilots anywhere in the world, flying all kind of aircrafts.  But what is exactly a Bush Pilot?  Some of us tend to think that are those kinds of guys that can land small airplanes in a piece of paper, do all kind of crazy things with an airplane, some of them to the edge of a reckless operation.  The fact is that being a Bush Pilot requires a very good knowledge of your aircraft, how it will react to certain control inputs, what to expect under certain conditions of weight, cg position, etc.  And also very good flying skills, good knowledge of the area of operation, terrain, weather, wind conditions, etc.

During my stay in Africa, flying in different countries I have seen all kind of extreme operations done by bush pilots.  For example, land a Boeing 737 in a passenger / cargo configuration in a 5000 ft gravel runway, a turbine DC-3 from Red Cross landing in a curving runway in the middle of the African bush, a Let 410 flown by Russian pilots taking off in a road with the wings barely clearing the sides of the trees.

We were operating our Saab in a mining location which has been compacted with….coffee! Yes, unbelievable, coffee.  And was hard like concrete!

Not to mention, that in most cases there was no Flight Dispatcher, so we had to calculate manually our Weight and Balance, sometimes no baggage handlers.  In some destinations, mostly mining locations, there was no weather report station, so we had to call someone, usually the radio operator to give us an appreciation of the weather conditions over the airfield and I can tell, the guys were very good!

In most runways there was no PAPI, or VOR, or ILS, only a homemade GPS approach, so our glide slope were our eyes.  Remember the trick of the closed hand placed vertically on your glare shield with the runway threshold on top of it? It works perfect!

Bush Pilots are a brotherhood and they have a high reputation among the aviation community.  Today, away from Africa, flying in a modern environment, with radar control, all kind of aids for approach, long runways and modern airports and terminals; I can say that I’ll be always grateful for the wonderful opportunity that Africa gave me; that in fact made me a better pilot.

Author:  Capt. Ivan

A nice video of the “Tankers du Ciel” – Flying Tankers, the remarkable life of the pilots who bring fuel to the remote diamond mines of Angola.

  •   GDL 39