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Qatar Airways Claims to be First “Global Airline” to Use Ultraviolet Disinfection Trolley

Qatar Airways Claims to be First “Global Airline” to Use Ultraviolet Disinfection Trolley

Qatar Airways is the second airline to put an ultraviolet light disinfection trolley to use as an extra layer of protection against the novel Coronavirus and is claiming to be the first “global carrier” to operate Honeywell’s Ultraviolet (UV) Cabin System. The Doha-based airline has taken delivery of an initial batch of six beverage cart sized disinfection trolleys but expects to receive more in the coming weeks.

The plan, Qatar Airways says, is to disinfect every aircraft using ultraviolet light during every turn at Hamad International Airport (DOH) in the near future. The ultraviolet light treatment will be an additional step and won’t replace the use of chemical disinfectants that have been approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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.

U.S.-based carrier jetBlue became the first airline to start using the devices in July. The manufacturer claims a single-aisle aircraft can be safely sanitised within 10-minutes. Honeywell has been marketing its ultraviolet light disinfection trolley for several years but despite receiving interest from airlines had failed to win any orders.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has seen airlines scrabble for innovative ways to keep aircraft clean and disinfected as part of efforts to keep passengers safe and win back passenger confidence.

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has also developed an ultraviolet light mobile wand which could prove especially useful in disinfecting flight deck controls where liquid disinfectant can’t be used.

 “In clinical tests, UV light has been shown to be capable of inactivating various viruses and bacteria when properly applied at specified doses,” explained Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker.

“During these unprecedented times, the health and safety of our crew and passengers continues to be of the utmost importance,” he continued. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have been regularly introducing new and effective safety and hygiene measures onboard our aircraft, based on our unparalleled expertise of flying consistently throughout.”

Hamad International Airport has also been experimenting with the use of ultraviolet light, deploying fully autonomous robots that emit concentrated UV-C light in high passenger flow areas of the airport. DOH claims to sanitise high touchpoints every 10 to 15 minutes.

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