With the 2021 hurricane season well underway, many business owners in hurricane-prone areas have likely taken steps to ensure their property and employees are protected. While many companies have similarities within their hurricane and natural disaster checklists, this process is a little different for airlines and aircraft owners.
Airline Hurricane Preparation
When preparing for a potential hurricane, most business owners will have disaster plans in place. These plans often account for employee safety, ensuring everyone’s contact information is up to date, securing loose items outside the property, and informing clients of any possible closures or delays. While most of these items also apply to airlines and aircraft owners, these particular operations have their own very specific considerations necessary to ensure the safety of the aircraft.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), preparing for a natural disaster is something that is done year-round, rather than seasonally. This is done to ensure air navigation systems and airspace safety is sustained at all times. Because of this, airlines and aircraft owners need to know the ins and outs of preparing a plane when a hurricane is on the horizon.
Two of the most common ways airlines and aircraft carriers prepare for a hurricane include:
Hangaring the Aircraft
When a hurricane is forecasted, aircraft owners should consider moving their planes into a hangar as soon as possible. In the event an aircraft owner does not have a permanent hangar, spots can be purchased to ensure a plane is protected. Aircraft owners must pay close attention to the construction of the hangar when considering purchasing a spot because if a hangar collapses due to a hurricane, the plane could suffer even worse damage and require costly repairs if it is even salvageable.
Tying Down the Aircraft
Some aircraft owners tie down their planes to keep them protected during a hurricane. While it seems like a simple process, tying down a plane in the event of a natural disaster requires very specific steps to ensure the plane is adequately protected. Initially, when a tie down spot is being selected, aircraft owners need to find areas with no or few objects that could be blown into the aircraft. Additionally, aircraft owners need to park the plane upwind from any other planes to ensure hurricane winds will blow the planes away from one another rather than into each other. All windows and doors on the plane need to be latched and engine inlets, the pilot tube, and static ports covered.
Once these items are taken care of, the plane’s wheels should then be chocked. Chocking is the process of placing a wedge-shaped rubber or wooden block under the wheels to prevent the plane from moving or sliding around. While the parking brake should also be engaged, chocking the plane helps to keep it more secure, as hurricane strength winds can still move planes even when brakes are activated. Deflating the tires or digging holes for the wheels to sit in can also help reduce the plane’s movement during the storm.
When actually tying down the plane, nylon rope or chains can be used along with tie down rings. Tie down ropes or chains should form a 45-degree angle from the plane to the ground with a bowline knot. Once complete, the ties should then be anchored. However, aircraft operators will need to ensure these anchor points are secure and will not come loose during the storm. Normally aircraft owners will set a tie down anchor in a tub of cement; however, during a hurricane, this can easily become a projectile. During a hurricane, aircraft owners should find an airport that has access to wire cables that can be tied to the anchors to secure the plane.
Finally, a lift fence should be attached to the top of the plane’s wings. Lift fences help keep the plane from attempting to fly during hurricane strength winds by acting as a spoiler and making it harder for the wings to generate any lift.
Assisting Aircraft Owners With Insurance Claims
Just like owning a commercial vehicle or boat, a commercial aircraft owner’s plane is its business. While aircraft owners often have office spaces that also require protection in the event of a natural disaster, without the plane itself the business cannot properly function.
In the event a plane is damaged during a hurricane, some aircraft carriers may feel at ease due to having an insurance policy in place. Despite this, however, insurance companies can delay the processing of a claim, underpay a claim, or flat-out deny it – even if the claim is valid. At Raizner Law, we understand how upsetting and detrimental this can be to an aircraft owner’s business. If your aircraft or travel facilities have been damaged, we can help. Contact us today to see how we can best assist you and evaluate your claim.