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Qatar embraces UV light to sanitise aircraft

written by Hannah Dowling | September 29, 2020
Qatar has embraced UV light technology in order to sanitise its aircraft (Australian Aviation archives)

Qatar Airways has turned to ultraviolet light as a means to fight viruses and bacteria within its flight cabins.

The airline is reported to be the first carrier to operate aerospace and technology company Honeywell’s ‘ultraviolet cabin system’, which is approximately the size of a standard beverage cart.

The system has extendable UV ‘arms’ that can sanitise aircraft seats and cabin surfaces without the use of liquid cleansing chemicals.

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Qatar has taken ownership of six of these systems, which have reportedly undergone “comprehensive testing” onboard before entering service. 

The airline has said it hopes to acquire more Honeywell UV cabin systems and implement them in all of its aircraft.

Commenting on the announcement, Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said, “We are pleased to be the first global airline to operate the Honeywell UV Cabin System onboard our aircraft. In clinical tests, UV light has been shown to be capable of inactivating various viruses and bacteria when properly applied at specified doses.

“During these unprecedented times, the health and safety of our crew and passengers continues to be of the utmost importance. 

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have been regularly introducing new and effective safety and hygiene measures onboard our aircraft, based on our unparalleled expertise of flying consistently throughout.”

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Honeywell Aerospace president James Currier said, “Honeywell has technology today that can make air travel safer – from the traveller to the airport worker, throughout the airport and onboard the aircraft.”

Qatar has said it will use the new systems in addition to traditional cleaning products recommended by the International Air Transport Association and World Health Organisation, to ensure the highest standards of cleanliness.

The news comes as the industry appears to be shifting towards the use of UV light as a method of sanitation.

Last week, US planemaker Boeing announced it had entered a patent and technology licence for its own recently developed portable UV wand, with Florida-based health technology company Healthe Inc.

Its device is about the size of a carry-on suitcase, and almost looks like one, too. It consists of a wand that is held and transported within a roll-on hard-back case.

The wand is then shone along high-touch areas, with Boeing claiming the device can sanitise an entire flight deck in less than 15 minutes.

“The UV wand is designed to be more effective than similar devices. It quickly disinfects surfaces on an airplane and further strengthens other layers of protection for passengers and crew,” said Mike Delaney, head of Boeing’s new Confident Travel Initiative.

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