The spread of the COVID-19 virus has intensified the focus on the importance of ensuring a safe and healthy environment, including aboard your business aircraft. Enhanced cleaning procedures for sanitizing and disinfecting aircraft cabins have been implemented by aircraft owners and operators, maintenance facilities, and OEMS. The FAA and CDC have published detailed guidelines, and organizations, such as NBAA and NATA, have been posting recommendations, sharing resources, and hosting webinars to provide information on how to effectively clean the cabin before and after each flight. These measures help to ensure that crew members, passengers, and all those with whom they come in contact are kept safe while allowing the business aviation industry to function.
Aircraft cabins, especially commercial airliners, easily play host to viruses, bacteria, and airborne mold spores, as well as gases and odors. Just by sneezing, coughing, and even breathing within an aircraft, you release contaminants and pathogens. The current pandemic spotlights the need to provide a clean and healthy interior when an aircraft is in the air as well as on the ground.
While a variety of excellent products and procedures are effective for cleaning aircraft interiors when on the ground, it’s important to be aware of cleaning and purifying the cabin while an aircraft is in flight. Aircraft are equipped with filters that work through the environmental control system (ECS), but they work passively, meaning that the air, along with any contaminants it contains, must come to the filter. A proactive system that complements the ECS system provides a more effective way to purify the cabin.
A growing number of both FAA- and EASA-registered business aircraft are equipped with this type of system, developed by Aviation Clean Air (ACA). The system consists of a component mounted on the existing ECS supply duct. It works electronically to create positive and negative ions from the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in the water vapor present in the air, and serves as a cleaning agent to purify the air and surfaces. The system pushes air through the cabin and distributes ions throughout the aircraft interior. As a result, pathogens are immediately killed wherever they live in the air and on the surfaces throughout the cabin. The technology replicates and accelerates nature’s cleaning process that successfully inactivates airborne and surface viruses, instantly sanitizing the cabin.
In addition to its disinfection and purification capabilities, the ACA system offers a number of other benefits. It eliminates all types of odors onboard, including those from the galley, lavatory, and even passengers. Lingering odors from jet fuel emissions and engine starts dissipate very quickly, and use of the system also greatly reduces the static electricity normally generated on board aircraft. An added benefit is that passengers and crew report feeling refreshed even after long flights.
ACA took on the development and design work necessary to manufacture a system that is small enough and light enough to use onboard aircraft and creates no ozone. The component was tested extensively to ensure it met DO-160, the international standard for environmental conditions and test procedures for airborne equipment. It then was patented for Design and Utility, after which the FAA issued a Parts and Manufacturing Authority approval for the system.
In the process of killing pathogens and eliminating odors, the system produces no harmful ozone or chemicals and requires no maintenance. Once installed, it functions automatically whenever the ECS is running.
While there are a variety of tools available to aircraft owners and operators to help mitigate the spread of all types of viruses and other containments, new solutions are being rolled out. The effective use of these products and practices help provide a healthy and safe environment for business aviation, and keep you flying. BAA
Howard Hackney is Managing Member and Co-Founder of Aviation Clean Air. His 50+ year career includes flight operations, business development, and senior management positions with OEMs, corporate flight departments, Part 135 operations, and aviation services companies.