How Do You Restart an Airline? An Inside Look at Brussels Airlines

As countries begin to lift lockdowns and people start to travel again, airlines all over the world are coming out of hibernation and preparing to fly passengers once more.

Belgium flag carrier, Brussels Airlines is planning to spread its wings on June 15, after nearly three months on the ground, but how does an airline restart operations?

Brussels Airlines
Belgium flag carrier Brussels Airlines has set its sights on a June 15 start date. Brussels Airlines

Well, there are several challenges to getting an operator back up and running again, especially those that have been grounded for so long. Crew and aircraft requirements are some of the largest tasks which airlines must navigate.

In normal circumstances, a commercial pilot who flies on a regular basis goes through a strict training regime every six months, to keep up with all procedures. Now that its pilots have not been in a cockpit for three months and do not meet the mandatory "three landings in 90 days" rule set out by European regulators EASA, the airline says it needs to retrain them to make sure they are ready to get back in the cockpit.

A simulator test, as well as a theoretical exam and Crew Resource Management (CRM) training help get them ready to get back in the air.

As for cabin crew, Brussels Airlines will run a refresher course that will update its staff to new procedures and measures put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To protect its aircraft from the elements, the sensitive areas have been wrapped in plastic, while the famous “remove before flight” tags were placed over sensors dotted around the fuselage. All these will need to be taken off before the jet can fly again.

Brussels Airlines revealed that it takes around 200 man hours to restore each airframe to an airworthy status. So, with 49 jets currently grounded it could take some time to get them all flying again.

Airlines of all shapes and sizes will be experiencing the same difficulties with crew and aircraft requirements that Brussels Airlines has shown us. The Belgium carrier like most, is raring to go, but the limiting factor could well be how quickly it can turn its grounded aircraft into airworthy ones.