JetBlue to test ultraviolet cleaning technology aboard aircraft

JetBlue plans to test ultraviolet cleaning technology – which is typically used in hospitals — aboard its aircraft in a pilot program geared to keep them clean during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.

The airline is working with the North Carolina-based Honeywell conglomerate in the program, which will introduce eight UV cabin units at some of the carrier’s hubs, according to ABC News.

“The coronavirus has changed how we all look at health, how we all look at safety and how we all look at hygiene,” Joanna Geraghty, president and COO of JetBlue, told the network.

“I think this is something that is important, customers on board an aircraft knowing that it’s clean, that it’s safe and that it’s healthy air,” she added.

The system — which is about the size of a beverage cart — can clean the cabin of a narrow-body airliner in 10 minutes, according to Honeywell.

“It applies UVC light in a very consistent way to all the surfaces inside the airplane — the overhead bins, the seats, the armrest and the window shades,” Honeywell Aerospace chief Mike Madsen told ABC News.

This kind of UV light can be harmful to people, including damaging their skin and eyes, said Dr. Jay Bhatt, a practicing internist and an ABC News contributor.

“We’ve got to be really careful with using this technology to make sure that no humans are around and that only trained operators are using it,” Bhatt said, according to the outlet.

“UV light is another tool in our tool box. It’s no substitute for proper disinfection and cleaning as well as using distancing, hand hygiene and those awesome masks so that we can keep ourselves safe,” he added.

The system will be tested along with JetBlue’s existing cleaning protocols, which include enhanced cleanings before flights and electrostatic spraying during overnight deep scrubs, ABC News reported.

“We’re going to be looking for how far the UV light can reach,” Geraghty told the network. “That’s one of the benefits of light that can reach into places that spraying and other types of technology may not be able to reach.”

In the Big Apple, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority also announced in May that it was rolling out a pilot program to disinfect subway cars using UV light. The agency said it would introduce 230  far ultraviolet-C lamps on select trains, buses and various facilities.

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