In the age of COVID-19, disinfecting aircrafts has become a hot topic in the aviation industry, especially on international routes between countries in high-risk areas. While these are off-limits to most airlines at the moment, in the future they will reopen, and this will result in a heightened awareness of health and safety procedures by passengers. This will be especially true if they travel to and from higher-risk countries, or find themselves on connecting flights passing through these areas.
So why is disinfecting of the aircraft so important, and how is it done?
Why Disinfecting The Aircraft is Important
As a rule, an aircraft will always be cleaned after each flight as a general procedure, with major cleaning operations taking place at regular intervals, according to rules set out by the airline themselves. Disinfecting the aircraft is important to decrease the risk of viruses or bacteria building up on the plane, not only ensuring the health of the next set of passengers but the captain and crew on board as well. If somebody on the plane is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or there is a medical emergency on board, these procedures may be amplified in a bid to ensure the health of the other passengers on the plane, as well as those traveling on flights to follow.
Before, During or After the Flight
The scope of cleaning depends on each exact situation, especially factoring in the main routes traveled by aircrafts and the home locations of its passengers. A route that travels via O.R Tambo International airport in South Africa, for instance, will have less international foot traffic than one involving São Paulo, which is a South American travel hub. This may result in amplified measures by the carrier and its staff, as the risk of illness is higher. Cleaning measures used include disinfectant wipes, spraying the cabin with mist covering all surfaces, and in extreme cases, certain parts and components may even be replaced. These measures can all take place before, during, or after the flight depending on the circumstances.
Changes in Regulations Due to COVID-19
Many existing aircraft are equipped with cabin air filters, and this may become standard practice in the wake of COVID-19 and the global health crisis the world is facing in 2020. These filters get rid of most harmful viruses and it would come as no surprise if future design innovations kept these filters in mind as a “must-have” for the future of air travel. COVID-19 will also likely result in more stringent cleaning regulations. Whereas in the past an 8-hour deep-clean would only have been done in extreme circumstances, these may become common practice, with regular checks put in place to ensure that maintenance and disinfecting operations are done thoroughly, and efficiently.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions: Health & Safety First
Even once international travel restrictions have been lifted, the world will continue to have a different outlook on health and safety regulations than it did in the time leading up to COVID-19. It is up to us to remain vigilant, and to do what we can to avoid contracting a virus while traveling. Remember that you don’t need to be afraid of asking questions. Don’t be afraid to check in with the airport staff about the cleaning procedures on the plane. It helps to remain curious in a bid to protect your health and safety, as well as those around you. Needless to say, we can expect a flurry of technological and entrepreneurial innovations in the future which will make traveling even more safe than it is today, but until then, be mindful of your surroundings, and do what you can to boost your immune system before you travel.