Airport operators and private pilots based at Blackpool Airport are on stand-by to help with the current COVID-19 crisis.
A group of 11 aircraft, 22 pilots and 4 operational support volunteers are ready to help deploy critical medication and equipment should there be a rapid change of hospital admissions and where timing is of the essence. Group members include airliner pilots who are currently grounded, some of whom began their flight training career at Blackpool Airport.
As the first North West airport to join the national volunteer response initiative, the Blackpool group of volunteers have joined forces with Sky Watch UK Civil Air Patrol (UKCAP), a UK registered charity comprising pilots, observers and supporters who provide air support to organisations and communities that may not have access to such support, or whose own regular air support is not available in order to protect life and the environment. Relief support could include observation and reporting, aerial searches, aerial photography and surveys, communications relay and air courier services.
Planned logistics for the UK are being coordinated by the military and UKCAP is now linked directly with the military logistics coordination team. UKCAP is also in regular contact with The National Police Air Service (NPAS) and Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCGA), NHS and Public Health England, should further help be required.
Simon Menzies CEO of Hangar Three Blackpool Ltd, based at Blackpool Airport and local NW coordinator for UKCAP said, “Our Local Task Force at Blackpool Airport is ready and willing to be deployed to help the local community in any way we can. The airport remains open for business with an operational resilience plan in place to maintain continuity of operations for crucial services such as the offshore helicopter flights, the NW Air Ambulance Service, MEDEVAC, repatriation flights and other logistical support flights, whilst safeguarding all staff and crew members.”