A pandemic that has been spreading in recent months has become a part of our daily lives. More and more countries are reporting coronavirus disease and death, and many things are yet to be discovered about the virus itself. The list of those things is also the best way to protect and disinfect. Certainly, self-isolation is the most effective way to combat the spread of the virus, but what if we need to travel by plane without delay. Airlines are introducing rigorous precautionary measures to counter the pandemic.
How are airplanes disinfected and how do they reduce the chance of transmission? This has become one of the most important issues in commercial aviation. For this reason, the official measures that need to be taken in disinfection and prevention have been determined. IATA has released the official pandemic guidelines, which you can see here. The World Health Organization has also published its guidance on aircraft interior cleaning.
Safety of passengers and crew members
The measures taken in the first place relate to passengers who flew airplanes. Before boarding as well as getting off the plane, all passengers’ body temperature is measured by non-contact infrared thermometer equipment. if a high temperature is noted, the recommendations of the healthcare professionals must be followed, and they must be contacted immediately. In long-haul flights, in-flight measurement of body temperature during operation should be taken. In case of a fever or other symptoms of the virus, the in-flight emergencies, found in the aforementioned IATA guidance, should be taken.
Crew members, as well as in-flight service, are subject to standard prevention measures. Depending on the length of the flight and the estimated hazard different prevention and protection measures should be taken.
As a precautionary measures it is mandatory to wear protective masks and sterilize hands. The facial masks should be replaced with new ones as soon as they are moist or spoiled and hands should be wiped with sanitizer both before and after the replacement. Crew members should reduce entering the cockpit and using separate toilets. Intercom system is recommended for communication among crew members to avoid close contact.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, airlines are making great efforts to take precautions to sanitize and prevent the virus from spreading. The regular vacuum-and-wipe cleanup onboard has transformed into hospital-grade sterilizations. Preventative disinfection should be carried out after the aircraft is cleaned.
In addition to the standard cleaning procedure after each flight, some airlines, as a precautionary measures, have started spraying a high-grade disinfectant on every surface of the cabin after every flight. The disinfectant is sprayed through a fog machine that aerosolizes it so it can coat the air and all surfaces in the cabin, including the ceiling, seats, trays, floors, lavatories, crew rest areas, and galleys. On international flights these cleanings are even more thorough and in the most extreme cases this process takes up to eight hours.
To prevent the spread of the virus airlines took away some of the shared reading material that’s usually found in the back of seats. After each flight, meal trays and television screens are disinfected, while headsets, headrest covers, pillow covers and blankets are all changed. The cabin air filter system has similar performance to those used in hospital operating rooms. Most airlines will also schedule a ‘deep interior clean’ every month or six weeks. This clean takes several hours and is extremely thorough. Used agents offer antimicrobial protection for up to 10 days.