Study Finds Heat Very Effective At Killing COVID-19 On Flight Deck Surfaces

Posted Dec 16, 2020

Cleaning touch surfaces in the flight deck of an aircraft can be a challenging process because of the complex combination of knobs, switches, dials, handles, among other things. Results from a new study conducted by Boeing and the University of Arizona have found that a very simple technique was found to be very effective at ridding flight deck surfaces of lingering traces of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

They found that applying heat at 50 degrees Celsius/120 degrees Fahrenheit to an aircraft’s flight deck for 3 hours killed 99.99% of SARS-CoV-2 while a cooler 40 degrees Celsius/104 degrees Fahrenheit application had an effectiveness rate of 99.9%. It’s not 100% perfect but it could result in more effective disinfection along with better prioritization of cleaning resources for other section of the aircraft.

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Flight decks can withstand heat up to 70 degrees Celsius/160 degrees Fahrenheit, which means this method is well within safety margins.

“We’re basically cooking the virus,” said Dr. Charles Gerba, University of Arizona microbiologist and infectious disease expert. “Thermal disinfection is one of the oldest ways to kill disease-causing micro-organisms. It’s used by microbiologists in our laboratory every day.”

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“Passenger and crew safety are our top priorities — that extends from the cabin to the flight deck,” said Michael Delaney, who leads Boeing’s Confident Travel Initiative (CTI) efforts. “Thermal disinfection could deliver another valuable tool to destroy COVID-19 on sensitive and difficult-to-reach components that protect pilots.”

[Featured Photo: Alex Beltyukov/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)]

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