Aviation industry mobilised in the fight against coronavirus

Apr. 29, 2020

Airports, air navigation service providers and airlines, not to mention the air and ground manufacturers have all been hit incredibly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. As the industry continues to grapple with the fall-out from the pandemic, its operations remain essential to fighting the virus.

The SESAR Joint Undertaking is proud of its members who are actively supporting efforts across Europe to tackle the pandemic. Here is an overview of just some of their initiatives:


The company is manufacturing visor frames for protective face masks using 3D printing technology in Spain, Germany and France, and ventilators in the UK. The company is also purchasing and transporting face masks to Europe for supply to hospitals and health-care workers. At its helicopter division, staff are working with emergency services in France to provide solutions to separate the cockpit from cabin to protect crew when transporting infected patients. Meanwhile, its BizLab division is supporting a new crowdsourcing platform created for start-ups that have fast and efficient solutions to address the technology and business challenges faced by larger companies as a result of the pandemic.

DLR and NLR, members of AT-One

In addition to the operational measures it has taken, DLR, the German Aerospace Center, is retrofitting 3D printers to produce medical protective equipment – specifically the production of protective masks and valves for respirators using 3D printing.  NLR, the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre, is supporting inititiaves such as Materialise which is developing a 3D printed hands-free door opener to avoid the transmission of the virus.

Air navigation service providers (B4, COOPANS, DFS, DSNA, ENAV, ENAIRE, NATS)

ANSPs have ensured the continuity of their services, enabling the transport of essential medical supplies and patients in a critical condition, in addition to much needed perishable goods. This has been achieved by adapting rostering and disinfecting working facilities to mitigate impact and maintain critical services and maintenance activities.  Thanks to air traffic management, European Member States have also been able to repatriate citizens stranded elsewhere in the world. These operations are managed in close cooperation with civil aviation authorities, airport operators and other actors in the aviation value chain. Added to these services, ANSPs are working with State and police authorities, supporting drone monitoring operations on coronavirus containment measures, as well as emergency transport operations by drone. In addition to providing information on the latest traffic, our members have been using their communications channels to provide public service updates from airlines, ministries of transport, foreign affairs, and health.

Dassault Aviation

To deal with the health crisis linked to COVID-19, Dassault Aviation has made Falcon business jets available to the French Defence Ministry as part of the Operation Resilience intended to supply logistics and medical support for civilian coronavirus control activities. The company is also participating in the system set up by Aviation Sans Frontières (ASF) to transport medical personnel or medical equipment. Dassault Aviation has also donated 130,000 masks to France’s hospitals.


EUROCONTROL has produced two scenarios to illustrate the possible impact of the extent to which “COVID-compliant operational procedures” for airlines and airports are common across all European States. If airlines have to comply with one set of regulations on departure and another set when the flight arrives in another state, then this will be particularly onerous on the industry, the factsheet states.

EUROCONTROL Member States have agreed a financial package enabling airlines to defer the payment of up to €1.1 billion of air traffic control fees due for payment to Europe’s air traffic management industry in the coming months.


Frequentis is working with public safety organisations across Europe, who are facing up to five times more emergency calls, to ensure their systems can meet this increased demands. In the area of air traffic management, the company is working with its client ANSPs to help set up contingency control rooms in case of contamination of the operational control room. Frequentis is also focusing on recovery and post crisis scenarios together with its customers, making use of Virtual Centre technologies and Remote Digital Towers to provide uninterrupted ATC services at all times.


The company is using some of its Aerospace manufacturing facilities for the production of N95 respirators. Honeywell’s ramp up of personal protection equipment (PPE) manufacturing at sites like this is designed to help get PPE into the hands of those who need it most, including the health care workers and first responders working on the front lines to combat the spread of COVID-19.


To mitigate the impact of the virus, Indra’s command and control technology and logistical information systems are providing the necessary support to the military for the disinfection of critical infrastructures (ports, airports and stations), healthcare facilities and stations, support during the setting up of field hospitals and the transport of various materials to healthcare locations and facilities, as well as the disinfection of care homes and the transfer of the sick and elderly from hospitals to hotels converted to emergency hospitals. In addition, Indra’s staff are voluntarily manufacturing medical supplies with 3D printers. Through its cybersecurity company, SIA, it has launched a website to help families and companies in the field of cybersecurity, while its Digital Transformation Consultancy and Information Technology Company, Minsait, is helping clients to execute key projects remotely, facilitating digital onboarding of customers or enabling citizens to withdraw cash from ATMs without physical contact with the electronic device. The company is also donating tablets to help with the homeschooling of children during the crisis.


Leonardo has undertaken a series of solidarity initiatives in Italy to support the efforts to guarantee the containment of Covid-19 on a daily basis, as well as assistance to those and their families affected by virus.

Leonardo and its crew is supporting Italian Civil Protection Department by carrying out a series of shuttle flights between Italian airports to ensure the transportation of medical supplies (ventilators, masks, etc.).

In addition, the Helicopters Division has made available its pilots and 3 helicopters, providing technical support to the Armed Forces’ helicopter fleet, police and other authorities to ensure Italian civil protection during the healthcare operations.

At the Leonardo-Grottaglie site, the Aerostructures Division, launched the first production batch of valves, through additive manufacturing technology (3D printing). These will support the initiative of Isinnova, a company in Brescia, to adapt a particular model of snorkeling mask transforming it into ventilators for sub-intensive therapies. The same activity will be carried out at the Electronics Division La Spezia and Livorno site.

As of 6 April, Leonardo is offering a 2 months free-of-charge threat Intelligence service to 100 companies to improve the cyber defence of their operations and mitigate cyber risks linked to the current widespread homeworking.

See also Leonardo's response to Covid-19

Airports - SEAC (Heathrow Airport Ltd, Flughafen München GmbH, Schiphol Nederland B.V., Aéroports de Paris S.A., Flughafen Zürich AG, Swedavia and Avinor) and ACI Europe

Airports remain open and committed to helping their airline, cargo and other partners with the repatriation of citizens, transport of medical supplies, patients and perishable goods. Staff at the airports are also supporting local initiatives such as fundraising actions, mask making, food donations or equipping the elderly with technology to help stay connected with friends and family.





The company is donating masks to hospitals and health workers, in addition to the masks provided to the French government. Thales facilities throughout France and beyond are also assisting with distribution of disposable gowns to help local healthcare professionals in need. The company is working with Airbus and other companies in the UK to produce ventilators, while in Spain and France staff are producing visors using 3D printers. Thales is also working with countries, adapting its production lines to meet urgent needs of hospitals to meet their increased needs for high-resolution radiology. Thales is also working with the police in the Netherlands to ensure their emergency services rooms and crisis management centres are fully operational.