Qatar Airways Takes Aircraft Sanitation To Futuristic New Heights

"In clinical tests, UV light has been shown to be capable of inactivating various viruses and bacteria when properly applied."

Qatar Airways Takes Aircraft Sanitation To Futuristic New Heights

Image: Qatar Airways

Air travel has always had a laissez-faire feel about it – from the classy golden days to the more recent Ryanair Revolution (where planes began to be filled with backpackers and digital nomads).

Likewise, at the pointy end of the plane, until 2020, a sense of hedonism reigned supreme (see: the pointy end cone of trust).

So it was a shock last year when a pandemic hit, and flying became a Serious Business.

From masks to massive fines for misbehaviour to UV lights, hygiene is now front and centre of everyone’s mind – from passengers to airline CEOs.

As part of this, we’ve seen various new cleaning protocols introduced.

Qatar Airways, one of the few airlines to continue operating during the peak pinch of the crisis, has been at the forefront of this. In September 2020, the Doha based carrier announced that they had become the first global carrier to operate Honeywell’s ultraviolet cabin cleaning technology.

As Qatar Airways announced in a press release at the time: “In clinical tests, UV light has been shown to be capable of inactivating various viruses and bacteria when properly applied.”

The size of a beverage cart, the Honeywell UV Cabin System, which is operated by Qatar Aviation Services (QAS), has extendable UV arms that treat aircraft seats, surfaces and cabins without using cleaning chemicals.

“Having already received six of the Honeywell UV Cabin System,” Qatar Airways wrote in September 2020, “the devices have undergone comprehensive testing onboard Qatar Airways aircraft, before entering service.”

Enter: May 2021. Qatar Airways yesterday took to Instagram to share a video explaining the latest development in their ultraviolet cabin disinfectant technology.

The video shows how the aircraft is cleaned, from the cabin to the cockpit.

“We are always moving forward… doing what we can to stay ahead of the curve.”

Qatar Airways had already announced this move to the latest version of Honeywell technology in April 2021, writing: “Qatar Airways becomes the first global carrier to operate Honeywell’s Ultraviolet (UV) Cabin System version 2.0, further advancing its hygiene measures on board.”

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“The latest version of the Honeywell UV Cabin System that is owned and operated by Qatar Aviation Services (QAS), has been introduced to add flexibility, improve reliability, mobility and ease of use compared to its predecessor, with extended UV wings that treat both narrow and wide areas on board, reducing the overall disinfection time.”

“This version also includes a hand wand that disinfects areas like the cockpit and other smaller spaces and is non-motorised leading to less battery consumption.”

“After receiving 17 units of the latest version of the Honeywell UV Cabin System V2, the devices have all undergone comprehensive testing on board Qatar Airways’ aircraft. The airline aims to operate them on board all aircraft turnarounds at Hamad International Airport (HIA).”

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said of the change: “As the first global airline to operate the latest version of the Honeywell UV Cabin System V2 on board our aircraft, it is significantly more user friendly and technologically advanced. QAS has continued to maintain our impeccable service during the outbreak of COVID-19, specifically supporting with repatriation flights and increased cargo workloads.”

“As the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating, the first airline in the Middle East to begin trials of the innovative new IATA Travel Pass ‘Digital Passport’ mobile app, and most recently, the first airline in the world to operate a flight with fully vaccinated crew and passengers – it is in our core to continuously be at the forefront of innovation, and to keep implementing the latest safety and hygiene measures on board and on the ground.”

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Qatar Airways is not alone in ramping up its hygiene protocols (and sharing the news on social media). As DMARGE recently reported, Air Canada has made similar social media announcements regarding its new amenity kits.

Likewise, as many were relieved to find out last year, most, but not all, commercial aircraft are equipped with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which mimic the airflow of an operating room, National Geographic reports.

As National Geographic explains: “While industrial pollution has dominated headlines for decades, COVID-19 brings the conversation indoors. The quality of indoor air—which way it flows, how much it does or doesn’t allow for pathogens to disperse or disappear—can make the difference between staying well or getting infected. Among the interiors repeatedly named as potential hot zones for infections (churches, nursing homes, and cruise ships) airplane cabins are a focal point of anxiety.”

“So it’s a surprise to find that the air inside a plane is cleaner than you might think. Thanks to HEPA filters and efficient circulation on commercial aircrafts, the air you breathe in flight – though not necessarily entirely virus-free – is much cleaner than the air in restaurants, bars, stores, or your best friend’s living room.”

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