United Airlines is using ultraviolet light technology to disinfect the flight decks of its aircraft, a technique the airline says will help keep its pilots safe from COVID-19.
Handheld AUVCo blades from the American Ultraviolet company are used “to kill any viruses that may reside on sensitive switches and touch screen displays within the flight deck,” creating a “sanitary” work environment for the airline’s pilots, the Chicago-based carrier said.
United said it consulted with the Cleveland Clinic to determine “the most effective use” of the technology.
“Safety is our highest priority and we continue to research, test and roll out new technologies to keep our aircraft and terminals safe for both customers and crew,” said Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations. “Flight decks have many working parts, screens and components that are challenging to clean with traditional hand wipes and liquids, especially for someone who isn’t a pilot. The UVC lighting gives us a faster, more effective disinfection of one of the most important areas of the aircraft.”
United said it is using electrostatic spraying to disinfect its aircraft cabins. “United’s use of UVC lighting in the flight deck—along with electrostatic [mist] spraying in the cabin—further reflects the airline’s approach of matching the right type of technology to the right settings,” United said in a statement.
“United implementing UVC lighting in its flight decks is an important tactic because we know that the virus can be killed by ultraviolet light,” James Merlino, the chief clinical transformation officer at Cleveland Clinic, said.
United said it has implemented temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at airports throughout its system and installed sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums. It is also promoting social distancing with floor decals at airports.
At airport gates, United said it is regularly disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers. The airline has made it policy to provide passengers with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes and is letting passengers self-scan boarding passes. United is promoting a “touchless” airport experience for passengers.