Several airlines have added UVC lighting to their onboard disinfecting and sanitizing protocols. Michael Doran looks at this low-touch approach to cabin health.
Boeing takes a Healthe approach.
US company Healthe is a 20—year veteran of UV technology and has been working with Boeing on a solution to keep aircraft cockpits free of pathogens. Chief Scientific Officer Fred Maxik says Boeing had worked on the idea for a couple of years and taken the lead on how to wrap the UV beam to a device that could be used easily inside the cockpit.
“They had done a lot of work on the geometries and the mechanical designs of how we had to get around the cockpit to effectively clean areas that would otherwise be very difficult to get to,” he explains to Inflight. “And then the collaborative part is how we take those designs and the IP (intellectual property] to make it work in the cockpit, so we began with what they’ve done and refined it into the final design.”
In September, as part of its Confident Travel Initiative, Boeing announced it had entered into a patent and technology licence with Healthe for the production and distribution of the Wand Pro. Maxik says a key differentiator of this product is its use of Far-UVC 222 technology, making it up to 700 times more powerful than some others being marketed today.
“The wand contains a very novel spectrum of UV light, the 222 nanometer light is remarkably effective against pathogens but also remarkably non-impacting to human beings and therein lies the magic for where it may go in the future,” he says. “The fact that by its physical properties it cannot penetrate the human body, can’t get into the cells of ouI skin or our eyes, makes it a marvellous tool against these type of pathogens, this one and the ones to come in the future.
“When we started working on it we were thinking about things like MERS and other pathogens that we’ve combatted before COVID, and our ability to create resilient environments is going to be critical to our transportation infrastructure in the future,” he adds. “And the memory of COVID is not going away from the mass consciousness for some time.”
The Wand Pro comes in a wheeled case with tests showing the cockpit can be cleaned and sanitised in less than 15 minutes. Etihad Airlines was the first to trial the system in August and initial deliveries are scheduled for the first quarter of 2021.
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