News

Aircraft cleaning is effective against virus – study

25 Oct 2020 by Tom Otley
A Boeing employee (Arzan Dotivala) uses an electrostatic sprayer to apply an approved disinfectant to a row of seats inside a Boeing mockup cabin.

New research by Boeing and the University of Arizona has demonstrated that the cleaning technologies and disinfecting solutions being used by commercial airlines are effective against Covid-19.

In the tests, Boeing and the University of Arizona determined that airlines’ current cleaning solutions effectively destroy the virus that causes Covid-19. Boeing completed the testing as part of its Confident Travel Initiative (CTI) to support customers and enhance the safety and well-being of passengers and crews during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Boeing employee (Bryan Moran) uses an approved disinfectant to clean a lavatory inside a Boeing mockup cabin

Testing was conducted on an unoccupied Boeing airplane against a live virus called MS2 over the summer. The University of Arizona Department of Environmental Sciences correlated those results to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, in a protected laboratory environment.

“While these cleaning solutions had been tested in other environments, an airplane behaves differently. It was critical for us to evaluate and confirm the chemicals and techniques we recommend for our customers’ use are effective and battle-tested,” said Mike Delaney, who leads Boeing’s CTI efforts. “By working with the University of Arizona, we were able to employ their world-renowned expertise in virology to do exactly that.”

The bacteriophage virus MS2 is safe and harmless to humans and more difficult to kill than SARS-CoV-2. Scientific and industry studies have used the MS2 virus for many years, but never before in an airplane cabin. The University of Arizona provided the MS2 virus and analysed test results.

Each area with MS2 virus was cleaned with a disinfecting product or method and then “swabbed” to be tested for any remaining virus.

“This study allowed us to test and validate, for the first time, that disinfecting solutions kill SARS-CoV-2 on an airplane,” said University of Arizona microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba. “It’s important to recognize we’re not only talking about SARS-CoV-2, but also other viruses and microorganisms.”

The study placed MS2 at strategic high-touch points throughout the cabin, including on seat tray tables, arm rests, seat cushions, stowage bins and inside the lavatory and galley. Technicians disinfected each area with various products and technologies. Chemical disinfectants were applied through two means: manual wiping and with an electrostatic sprayer, a device that applies a fine spray of an approved liquid disinfectant. The tests also measured how well Boeing’s ultraviolet wand and antimicrobial coatings worked. Antimicrobials are long-lasting coatings that destroy germs and viruses on surfaces.

Photos show droplets of liquid containing the MS2 virus on tray tables and seatbacks in a Boeing mockup cabin.

The University of Arizona analysed each area post-disinfection to determine effectiveness. The results showed various levels of effectiveness, but ultimately all the recommended products, methods and technologies successfully destroyed the MS2 virus.

Boeing and the University of Arizona say they are continuing to test recommended cleaning methods in a lab against SARS-CoV-2 and other similar viruses to further validate their efficacy.

boeing.com, arizona.edu

Loading comments...

Search Flight

See a whole year of Reward Seat Availability on one page at SeatSpy.com

Business Traveller November 2021 edition
Business Traveller November 2021 edition
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below
Polls