New aircraft cleaning standards pose a challenge for airlines returning to their activities after confinement by the coronavirus. Certainly, a provisional orientation on this matter is part of the directives published by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, EASA. Such guidelines were issued last March to prevent the spread of Covid 19 on travel by this form of transportation.
Accordingly, it’s relevant that all airlines, private aircraft owners and public entities that manage aircraft are aware of these provisions. Below we will summarize the most relevant standards.
Context of new aircraft cleaning standards
The World Health Organization issued on March 11 the declaration of a pandemic due to the increase in coronavirus infections. Two days later, EASA published two security directives; one for operators in its Member States and the other for airlines on other continents. Specifically from high risk countries, to avoid secondary pollution of passengers.
In summary, the provisions make deep disinfection of aircraft mandatory upon arrival at terminals. For this procedure, efficient products must be used that overcome the resistance of the SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces.
Likewise, the European aviation institution developed a constantly updated bulletin in order to provide guidelines for safe operation. Specifically, such recommendations are based on official communications from WHO and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Likewise, the bulletin shares suggestions issued by organizations such as IATA (Association of International Air Transport) and ACI (International Council of Airports).
Aircraft Cleaning Rules: Basic Considerations.
Three sources of Covid 19 infection could occur on board an aircraft:
- Airborne droplets or contaminated particles.
- Direct contact with body fluids (saliva, urine, phlegm) or feces of infected people.
- In the same way, by the eventual contact with these same substances deposited on surfaces or maintenance equipment; or, that they have been trapped in ventilation systems.
Obviously, the main risk of contamination for passengers is the proximity to an infected traveler. Although this danger decreases when the patient descends from the aircraft, some studies show that the virus remains viable and active in the air. Even for several days, depending on the environmental conditions and the type of surfaces. Therefore, the new EASA aircraft cleaning standards seek to effectively mitigate exposure by inhalation or contact with droplets or debris.
However, cleaning and disinfecting aircraft is not that simple. Airline operators, private owners, public entities and companies that provide specialized ground services must take into account the characteristics of their units. Specifically, the design of crew and passenger cabins for both aircraft and helicopters and the material of the surfaces.
This, together with the manufacturer’s recommendations, will determine the use of disinfecting agents that are adequate but do not deteriorate the components.
Some recommended products to disinfect aircraft compartments
Considering the above, cabin spaces should be cleaned before reuse with products containing effective antimicrobial substances against SARS-CoV-2. Recent tests verified that germicides with 70% ethanol eliminate two types of coronaviruses (hepatitis and gastroenteritis) on a surface in just one minute.
While disinfectants with a sodium hypochlorite concentration between 0.05 to 0.1% neutralize Covid 19 after five minutes of contact with the pathogen. Furthermore, identical results were obtained with household disinfectants composed of sodium lauryl ether sulfate, alkyl polyglucosides and fatty coconut acid diethanolamide.
Firstly, aircraft cleaning standards include preventive disinfection of aircraft from high-risk areas. For such procedure it’s pertinent to consider the stopping time or ground stop and the size of the unit. Similarly, EASA recommends following the following practices:
- Cleaning operators must use unique utensils for each area, differentiating them with labels or colors, in order to reduce the risk of cross contamination.
- It is also necessary to scrub surfaces with the disinfectant only for the proper time and remove it immediately to prevent component damage.
- Before disinfection, the floor must be sprayed and mopped from front to back. Subsequently, the operation should be repeated in reverse.
- Regarding critical areas, it is convenient to start cleaning from the top: clean areas first and then dirty ones. In other words, start with the roof, the hand luggage compartments, reading lights and air vents. Afterwards to disinfect windows, seats, armrests, trays, etc.
- Otherwise, toilet cleaning proceeds in sequence from contaminated to clean items: toilet, trash cans, sinks, toilet side walls, ceiling, door surfaces, and handles.
Specifically, preventive disinfection proceeds when the crew has left the restricted area of the airport in high-risk cities. Otherwise, routine cleaning will be applied.
Aircraft cleaning standards after an event
Obviously, this work refers to a disinfection process after the transfer of a passenger with certain symptoms of coronavirus (fever and persistent cough). Or that you have been in contact with Covid-19 positive patients. Furthermore, this work is relevant when certain surfaces are contaminated with sputum, phlegm or vomit. In this case, it’s essential to first remove these fluids with absorbent material and then thoroughly disinfect as previously indicated.
Along these same lines, it is essential to focus on cleaning the potentially infected passenger seat. In this regard, it is necessary to carefully remove the cover and mat and place it in a sealed “bio-hazard” bag for subsequent washing or disposal. If contamination reaches the seat cover it is vital to remove the upholstery for proper disinfection. To this must be added the disinfection of a protection area that includes two neighboring seats in all directions.
Prior to this protocol and after the disembarkation of passengers and crew, the cabin must be closed and the volume of the air conditioning must be turned up to maximum until the air exchange is complete.
Aeronáutica Gestión facilitates compliance with aircraft cleaning standards
In short, to comply with current aircraft cleaning standards, it is essential to deal with certified and specialized companies in this type of service. Aeronáutica Gestión offers complete internal and external cleaning procedures for all types of aircraft, both commercial lines and private aircraft owners or managers.
In particular, we follow guidelines regarding the processes and use of products approved by EASA and aircraft manufacturers for tasks such as:
- Inertization of cabins with CO².
- Thermonebulization, spraying and nebulization.
- Elimination of pests.
- And most importantly in this return to the normalization of air traffic, deep disinfection to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Likewise, at Aeronáutica Gestión we are specialists in the interior refurbishment of commercial aircraft and private jets; including the reupholstery, design, manufacture and installation of high-quality furniture. Contact us and we will inform you of all our services.