For Airlines, Dry Ice in Vaccine Transport Demands Special Attention

A worker with dry ice at a Pfizer plant in Puurs, Belgium. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be stored at minus-70 degrees Celsius.
PHOTO: OLIVIER MATTHYS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The refrigerant needed to maintain some doses during distribution is regulated as a dangerous good for aviation transport
The large amounts of dry ice needed to speed Covid-19 vaccine candidates to pandemic-weary populations will call for special attention from airlines and safety regulators.
Dry ice, the solid form of carbon dioxide, is a critical part of plans to transport the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, which must be kept at ultracold temperatures. Pfizer expects to ship 50 million doses world-wide by the end of the year. The vaccine was the first to be authorized in the West, receiving clearance for emergency use in the U.K. last week. It is under review by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S.
Widely used as a refrigerant, dry ice is classified as a dangerous good by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the U.S. Department of Transportation because it changes to gas form as it breaks down, a process called sublimation. Shippers must use ventilated containers that allow the gas to release, to prevent pressure from building up and rupturing the packaging.
The gas can also displace oxygen in confined spaces with poor ventilation, creating a suffocation hazard, though the risk is minimal under normal cabin ventilation, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“If oxygen levels get down below 19%, that could cause a hazard to people and animals,” said Delmer Billings, technical director for the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council, a nonprofit trade group that promotes safe transportation of hazardous materials. “If you deplete oxygen sufficiently, it could cause unconsciousness, even death,” he added.
Air carriers involved in vaccine transport efforts are asking aviation regulators to increase the amount of dry ice they are allowed to carry on flights hauling vaccines as they work with drugmakers and governments to set up distribution channels. Restrictions on the amount of the material on planes are typically based on aircraft ventilation rates and factors such as the size of the plane and whether it is used for passenger or cargo flights, said Robert Coyle, senior vice president of pharma and healthcare strategy at freight forwarder Kuehne + Nagel International AG.
On Thursday, Delta Air Lines Inc. said it had received FAA approval to double the allowed load of dry ice on its Airbus A330 and A350 wide-body jets, and six times the prior allowed load for shipments using a special suitcase-sized storage container that Pfizer designed.
Delta has done trial runs with vaccine cargoes from Europe and to Latin America, and within the U.S., all on cargo-only flights.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. secured FAA approval last month to boost its dry-ice allowance to 15,000 pounds from 3,000 pounds, for chartered cargo flights between Brussels International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport to support distribution of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. A United spokeswoman said the airline “has effective procedures in place to ensure we safely handle all the hazardous materials we are permitted to carry on board our aircraft.”
Extremely cold with a surface temperature of about minus-78 degrees Celsius, dry ice has long been used to ship medicine, pharmaceutical products and perishable food such as meat or ice cream.
“When packaged and stored properly, it poses no risk,” said Rafael Teixeira, president of World Courier and ICS, a specialty logistics provider owned by drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp.
The scale of the Covid-19 vaccine distribution effort is unprecedented, involving billions of doses with strict temperature-control requirements that are expected to strain cold-chain shipping networks.
The Pfizer and BioNTech shots must be kept at minus-70 degrees Celsius—colder than the average annual temperature at the South Pole and lower than some other vaccine candidates require. Moderna Inc.’s shot, the other leading front-runner, must be shipped and stored at a below-freezing temperature that most home or medical freezers can accommodate.
Makers of dry ice are bracing for an expected demand surge. Logistics providers have been building “freezer farms” with hundreds of portable units that store pharmaceuticals at ultralow temperatures.
Plymouth, Minn.-based Pelican BioThermal LLC, which makes packaging that typically uses engineered materials to maintain temperatures, has tested and approved the use of dry ice in its systems to provide the sub-frozen temperatures needed to maintain the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines. The company is also ramping up global production of its large shipping containers that can hold full pallets of goods on rising demand from pharmaceutical companies looking to ship vaccines.
“There are a lot of investments bhttps://www.wsj.com/articles/for-airlines-dry-ice-in-vaccine-transport-demands-special-attention-11607370720eing made right now to get this done,” said Ira Smith, director of Pelican’s rental program in the Americas.

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-airlines-dry-ice-in-vaccine-transport-demands-special-attention-11607370720

Virgin Atlantic to Test Cabin Crew and Pilots for COVID-19 at Least Once a Month

Photo Credit: Virgin Atlantic

Beleaguered airline Virgin Atlantic is to test all of its cabin crew and pilots for COVID-19 at least once a month as part of measures to “instil confidence” in the safety of air travel. The airline, which is majority-owned by Sir Richard Branson, however, warned the move would do little to increase ticket sales without a system to replace draconian quarantine rules with mass COVID-19 passenger testing.


Pilots and cabin crew have been taking part in a trial of rapid pre-flight COVID-19 testing since September 30 on flights to Hong Kong and Shanghai. Both of these destinations require crew to present a negative COVID-19 test certificate before being allowed entry.


The plan is now to extend rapid testing to other destinations that require negative tests for crew members, as well as those where such requirements don’t currently exist. In effect, it would mean that all crew would be tested for COVID-19 at least once per month.


Testing would be mandatory for certain destinations.
The move follows a similar initiative developed by shareholder Delta Air Lines. The Atlanta-based airline has now tested every member of staff for the novel Coronavirus and plans to roll-out mass rapid testing in the near future.
Results from the mass-testing program, Delta claims, shows that cabin crew are less likely to succumb to COVID-19 than the general public. The airline put that down to safety measures like mandatory mask-wearing rules and enhanced aircraft cleaning.


Last week, Air Canada also announced plans to roll-out mass rapid COVID-19 testing for staff members on a voluntary basis. The airline is using the Abbott rapid ID NOW testing system that can produce results in as little as 15-minutes.
On Monday, the South African government had to clarify rules for flight crew entering the government after Emirates apparently cancelled some services over confusion with new COVID-19 travel restrictions. While passengers must present a negative test certificate dated within 72-hours of travel, this will no longer be a requirement for cabin crew.
They won’t, however, now be allowed to leave their hotel rooms as part of preventative measures.

Link: https://www.paddleyourownkanoo.com/2020/10/05/virgin-atlantic-to-test-cabin-crew-and-pilots-for-covid-19-at-least-once-a-month/

Pesawat Garuda Pakai Masker, Dukung Kampanye Pemerintah

Garuda Indonesia meluncurkan pesawat dengan corak visual bermasker pada bagian depan pesawat Airbus A330-900 Neo.
Garuda Indonesia meluncurkan pesawat dengan corak visual bermasker pada bagian depan pesawat Airbus A330-900 Neo.(Dok. Garuda Indonesia).

Jakarta, CNN Indonesia — 

PT Garuda Indonesia (Persero) Tbk meluncurkan livery atau corak khusus yang menampilkan visual masker pada bagian depan pesawat Airbus A330-900 Neo.

Direktur Utama Garuda Indonesia Irfan Setiaputra mengatakan peluncuran livery masker pesawat ini merupakan bentuk dukungan terhadap program edukasi pemerintah melalui kampanye ‘Ayo Pakai Masker’.

“Kebanggaan tersendiri bagi kami menjadi maskapai penerbangan nasional pertama di Indonesia yang menampilkan livery khusus pesawat dengan masker. Hal ini juga sejalan dengan komitmen dalam mengedepankan aspek keselamatan dan kenyamanan penumpang di masa adaptasi kebiasaan baru,” ujar Irfan melalui keterangan resminya, Kamis (1/10).

Irfan memaparkan total pesawat yang akan menggunakan livery bermasker sebanyak 5 armada. Lima pesawat ini akan melayani rute penerbangan domestik maupun rute penerbangan internasional, termasuk destinasi penerbangan Singapura dan Jepang.

Lebih lanjut, dalam rangka mengoptimalkan kampanye penggunaan masker tersebut, Garuda Indonesia akan menyelenggarakan kompetisi desain livery masker pesawat bertajuk ‘Fly Your Design Through The Sky’ yang sepanjang Oktober 2020.

Sementara itu, Ketua Komite Penanganan covid-19 dan Pemulihan Ekonomi Nasional (KPCPEN) Erick Thohir mengungkapkan apresiasi terhadap inisiatif tersebut.

Irfan memaparkan total pesawat yang akan menggunakan livery bermasker sebanyak 5 armada. Lima pesawat ini akan melayani rute penerbangan domestik maupun rute penerbangan internasional, termasuk destinasi penerbangan Singapura dan Jepang.

Lebih lanjut, dalam rangka mengoptimalkan kampanye penggunaan masker tersebut, Garuda Indonesia akan menyelenggarakan kompetisi desain livery masker pesawat bertajuk ‘Fly Your Design Through The Sky’ yang sepanjang Oktober 2020.

Sementara itu, Ketua Komite Penanganan covid-19 dan Pemulihan Ekonomi Nasional (KPCPEN) Erick Thohir mengungkapkan apresiasi terhadap inisiatif tersebut.

Link: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/ekonomi/20201001183642-92-553379/pesawat-garuda-pakai-masker-dukung-kampanye-pemerintah

Saat Lima Pesawat Garuda “Pakai” Masker…

Livery “Ayo Pakai Masker” pesawat Garuda Indonesia A330-900 neo PK-GHG di Hangar 2 GMF AeroAsia.
Livery “Ayo Pakai Masker” pesawat Garuda Indonesia A330-900 neo PK-GHG di Hangar 2 GMF AeroAsia.(Twitter Garuda Indonesia)

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Banyak cara yang bisa dilakukan untuk mendukung program edukasi pemerintah melalui gerakan “Ayo Pakai Masker”. Garuda Indonesia misalnya, menampilkan visual masker pada bagian hidung pesawat jenis Airbus A330-900 Neo. Foto pesawat Garuda Indonesia “pakai” masker itu diunggah akun Twitter resmi maskapai BUMN tersebut @IndonesiaGaruda, Kamis (1/10/2020). Sontak saja foto itu dibanjiri pujian para netizen. “Keren!!!,” tulis akun @bimaevans.

Direktur Utama Garuda Indonesia Irfan Setiaputra mengatakan, Garuda Indonesia terus mendukung berbagai upaya yang dilaksanakan pemerintah dalam mencegah penyebaran Covid-19. “Menjadi kebanggaan tersendiri bagi kami menjadi maskapai penerbangan nasional pertama di Indonesia yang menampilkan livery khusus pesawat dengan masker,” ujar Irfan dalam keterangan yang diterima Kompas.com, Senin.

Irfan menambahkan, pihaknya menyadari bahwa upaya pencegahan penyebaran pandemi Covid-19 tentunya memerlukan dukungan penuh dan peran aktif berbagai pihak. “Kiranya dengan dengan upaya yang kami lakukan tersebut dapat turut meningkatkan kesadaran masyarakat akan penerapan protokol kesehatan dalam kehidupan sehari-hari, khususnya melalui penggunaan masker,” kata Irfan.

Irfan menjelaskan, ada lima pesawat milik Garuda Indonesia yang bagian depannya menampilkan visual masker. Nanntinya, pesawat-pesawat tersebut akan melayani rute domestik maupun internasional, termasuk rute Singapura dan Jepang.

Sementara itu,  Ketua Komite Penanganan COVID-19 dan Pemulihan Ekonomi Nasional (KPCPEN) Erick Thohir mengungkapkan apresiasinya terhadap inisiatif yang dijalankan Garuda Indonesia tersebut. ”Apresiasi setinggi-tingginya dari Komite kepada Garuda Indonesia yang ikut berperan aktif mensosialisasikan penggunaan masker dengan cara yang unik. Rencananya selain di dalam negeri, akan juga ada rute yang ke luar negeri. Hal ini sangat baik, agar masyarakat dunia juga tahu, bahwa Indonesia menomor satukan penanganan kesehatan,” ungkap Erick.

Selain penggunaan masker, Garuda Indonesia juga memastikan protokol kesehatan berjalan optimal pada seluruh lini operasional penerbangan. Misalnya melalui prosedur pengaturan jaga jarak antar penumpang, penggunaan alat pelindung diri (APD) bagi crew yang bertugas, penyediaan makanan dalam wadah sekali pakai dan penyajian dengan tanpa kontak erat.

Selain itu ada juga kegiatan disinfeksi kabin pesawat yang dilakukan secara rutin serta melalui edukasi terhadap penumpang terkait sistem filtrasi udara di pesawat yang mampu menyaring debu, partikel dan virus hingga mencapai 99,97 persen.

Lebih lanjut dalam rangka mengoptimalkan kampanye penggunaan masker tersebut, Garuda Indonesia menyelenggarakan kompetisi desain livery masker pesawat bertajuk “Fly Your Design Through The Sky” yang dilaksanakan sepanjang bulan Oktober 2020.

Melalui gelaran kompetisi tersebut, Garuda Indonesia turut memberikan kesempatan kepada masyarakat untuk menampilkan hasil kreativitas dan desain livery masker pesawat melalui platform media sosial yang nantinya desain masker livery terbaik akan dipilih untuk dapat digunakan Garuda Indonesia pada pesawat lainnya.

Artikel ini telah tayang di Kompas.com dengan judul “Saat Lima Pesawat Garuda “Pakai” Masker…”, Klik untuk baca: https://money.kompas.com/read/2020/10/01/182941426/saat-lima-pesawat-garuda-pakai-masker?page=all#page2.
Penulis : Akhdi Martin Pratama
Editor : Yoga Sukmana

Ground-breaking safety protocol has successfully allowed pilots with diabetes to work

A new study presented at this year’s Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) shows that the introduction of a new safety protocol has successfully enabled people with insulin-treated diabetes to work as commercial pilots, and could potentially allow individuals with the condition to perform other “safety-critical” jobs such as bus drivers or maritime workers.

The study was conducted by Dr Gillian Garden and colleagues at the Department of Metabolism and Ageing, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK, as well as researchers and industry professionals from universities and civil aviation authorities in the UK, Ireland, and Austria. Its goal was to evaluate the performance and safety impact of a new protocol that enabled certificated pilots with insulin-treated diabetes to fly commercial aircraft for the first time.

Strict health requirements are imposed on pilots and air crew to ensure a very high standard of safety and minimise the risk of a commercial aircraft carrying passengers from being involved in a potentially catastrophic accident. The risk of hypoglycaemia in people with insulin-treated diabetes has for many years debarred them from working in certain ‘safety-critical’ jobs, including flying commercial airliners. Hypoglycaemia occurs when blood glucose becomes too low and can cause potentially very hazardous side effects including dizziness, reduced cognitive performance, memory problems, shaking, blurred vision, confusion, and in the worst cases, unconsciousness and eventually death. Further complications that can result from diabetes can reduce flying performance such as retinal damage, which can lead to sight loss, and nerve damage which can cause pain or loss of sensation, particularly in the feet.

The UK, together with Ireland and Austria introduced a ground-breaking safety protocol for certificated pilots with insulin-treated diabetes, and now have the largest number of people in the world with the condition working as commercial pilots. Anyone with diabetes is subjected to strict oversight including glucose monitoring during duty periods, and frequent clinical health reviews.

The team performed an observational study of 49 pilots with insulin-treated diabetes who had been granted medical certification to fly commercial (Class 1 certificate) and non-commercial (Class 2 certificate) aircraft. Clinical details, pre and in-flight (hourly and 30 minutes pre-landing) blood glucose values were compared with the protocol-specified ranges: ‘Green’ (5-15mmol/L), ‘Amber’ (low 4-4.9mmol/L, high 15.1-20mmol/L), and ‘Red’ (low <4.0mmol/L, high >20.0mmol/L).

This “traffic light” system classifies blood glucose levels as “acceptable” (green), “caution” (amber), or “immediate action required” (red). In the case of a “red” low reading for example, the pilot is required to immediately hand over duties to the co-pilot or, if flying solo, consider landing as soon as is practical. They must also consume 10-15g of readily absorbed carbohydrate and re-test their blood sugar level after 15 minutes.

Participants in the study had either type 1 (84%) or type 2 (16%) diabetes and had been issued with Class 1 (61%), or Class 2 (39%) medical certificates. Most were male (96%), with a median age of 44 years, a median diabetes duration of 10.9 years, and a median follow-up period of 4.3 years after the receipt of their medical certificate.

Pilots had a mean glycated haemoglobin (HbA1C – a measure of average blood sugar over the previous 3 months) level of 55.0 mmol/mol (7.2%), and a post-certification mean of 55.1 (7.2%). A total of 38,621 blood glucose measurements were taken during 22,078 flying hours, of which 97.69% were within the ‘Green’ range, 1.42% within the low ‘Amber range and 0.75% within the high ‘Amber range. Only 0.12% of measurements fell within the low ‘Red’ range, and just 0.02% were within the high ‘Red’ range. Out of range readings declined from 5.7% in 2013 to 1.2% in 2019, while no episodes of pilot incapacitation occurred and none of the study participants showed a deterioration of their glycaemic control during the 7.5 years of the study. Use of a “traffic light” system provided a straightforward way of alerting pilots of the need to take preventive action to avoid impairment of performance or decision making that could arise from unduly high or low blood glucose levels.

The authors conclude that the protocol is practical and feasible to implement and has performed well. There were no reports of pilot incapacitation during flights, and no events occurred in which safety was compromised. They point out that this study represents the most extensive data set for people with insulin-treated diabetes working in a “safety-critical” occupation. The team suggest: “These data should help to inform the debate about whether people with insulin-treated diabetes can perform some safety-critical occupations, and similar safety protocols may be devised and tested for this purpose.”

The researchers note: “As a group, pilots are highly trained and well-motivated, and they generally manage their diabetes with considerable care. They are accustomed to frequently monitoring instruments during flight and had no problem accommodating additional glucose monitoring. In this study they were able to successfully balance close adherence to the protocol with maintenance of excellent long-term glycaemic control.” They also highlight: “Another facet of the protocol that should be noted is the ongoing surveillance for micro- and cardiovascular complications, which could adversely affect flying skills.”

Link: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/d-gsp092320.php