In a research carried out by Boeing and the University of Arizona put an age old technique of thermal disinfection to use in the fight against COVID-19. Researchers validated that applying heat to surfaces, especially on hard-to-clean flight deck equipment, effectively eliminates SARS-CoV-2.
A statement from Boeing said that the results indicate that the virus can be destroyed by more than 99.99% after three hours exposure to temperatures of 50 Celsius (120 Fahrenheit) and will still effectively kill more than 99.9% of the virus at 40 Celsius temperatures (120 Fahrenheit).
“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.”
Boeing completed the testing as part of its Confident Travel Initiative (CTI) to support customers and enhance the safety and well-being of passengers and crews during the COVID-19 pandemic. This testing was conducted in a protected laboratory environment at the university using flight deck parts and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, this fall.
“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 microorganisms. It’s used by microbiologists in our laboratory every day.”
The flight deck is one of the most challenging areas to sanitize using traditional chemical disinfectants. In areas with sensitive electronic equipment, heat has the ability to disinfect without adverse effects from cleaners. The flight deck is designed to withstand temperatures up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes thermal disinfection a safe, practical and effective sanitization method.
As air travel is fundamentally disrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Boeing and the University of Arizona continue to test recommended cleaning methods in a lab against SARS-CoV-2 and other similar viruses to further validate their efficacy.