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jetBlue Tests Ultraviolet Disinfection Trolley That Can Sanitize an Airplane Cabin in 10 Minutes

jetBlue Tests Ultraviolet Disinfection Trolley That Can Sanitize an Airplane Cabin in 10 Minutes

jetBlue will test out a new ultraviolet light disinfection trolley that the manufacturer claims is capable of destroying germs and viruses in an airplane cabin in just 10 minutes. The New York-based airline has taken delivery of eight of the devices and is putting them through their paces at its bases at New York JFK and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport as part of an initial 90-day test program.

In clinical studies, ultraviolet light has been found to be capable of significantly reducing certain viruses and bacteria, the manufacturer Honeywell says of its so-called UV Cabin System. Utilising UV-C light, the device delivers a powerful dose that in clinical studies was proven to reduce viruses and bacteria, including SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. 

The device hasn’t, however, yet been proven to work on SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) but studies are continuing. In a study by researchers at Boston University, UV-C light was shown to deactivate SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory conditions but research is ongoing to see if it actually works in real-world environments.

Roughly the same size as a standard airline beverage cart, the UV Cabin System can be quickly rolled onto an airplane between flights for easy disinfection. Arms extend from the side of the device so that light can penetrate deep into hard to reach areas as its rolled down the aisle. The arms can even be extended into lavatories as an extra layer of disinfection.

“JetBlue took an immediate interest in this new product when we demonstrated it for them just a few weeks ago,” explained Honeywell’s aerospace division president Mike Madsen.

“We’ve ramped up production quickly on the UV Cabin System, and our company is working on a range of solutions to help make passengers more comfortable about flying.”

Previous iterations of the device have sparked interest from airlines but few orders. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted airline executives to rethink as they look at ways to disinfect planes as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Other solutions include applying longlasting disinfecting chemicals that could ward off SARS-CoV-2 for days or even weeks between applications.

jetBlue became one of the first airlines in the United States to require passengers and crew to wear face masks as part of efforts to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. The airline has also committed to blocking middle seats through at least September 8 in order to maintain some form of social distancing.

Electrostatic sprayers to fog the inside of the plane cabin will continue to be used as part of JetBlue’s ‘Safety from the Ground Up’ program as evaluations on the UV-C light device continue.

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