Boeing Eyes Handheld UV Wands As Cabin Disinfection Solution


Boeing is reportedly testing out a handheld wand in the fight against coronavirus. The aircraft manufacturer said on Friday that its UV emitting device could be a valuable addition to the cabin sanitization process. As well as sanitizing the passenger cabin, Boeing is hoping it can be used to disinfect surfaces and controls on the flight deck.

Boeing, First 787 Dreamliner, 13 Years
Boeing is testing out UV light for cabin and flight deck sanitization. Photo: Boeing

UV wand in test with 13 airlines

Worries about how viruses like the one that causes COVID-19 could spread on a plane have led airlines to step up their cleaning regime. Now, airlines are widely using electrostatic spraying on their planes, as well as disinfecting surfaces thoroughly between turns.

However, ultraviolet (UV) light is rapidly being eyed as a potential solution to rapidly sanitizing the aircraft cabin. Some airports are already making use of the technology to sanitize their spaces, and United, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines are testing out UV robots for cabin disinfection.

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UV robots are in test with some airlines. Photo: Honeywell

Now, top planemaker Boeing is also jumping into the technology and is testing out a handheld UV wand for sanitizing spaces in the cabin and flight deck. Using UV light could reduce dependence on alcohol and other disinfectants, products that are not suitable for use in every area of the plane, as they could damage electrical components.

Boeing says it is working with 13 different airlines to test out the product and is looking at licensing the technology. If all goes to plan, the manufacturer will look to hire third party companies in the autumn to begin manufacturing the wands.

Boeing UV light
The UV wand could be in manufacture by the fall. Photo: Boeing

Other initiatives from Boeing

As well as testing out the handheld wand device, Boeing is working hard to develop other ideas to assist in disinfecting aircraft cabins.

One such idea is to shield surfaces with an anti-microbial coating. Anti-microbial technology is already widely used in hospitals and other environments to protect people from viruses and bacteria, but it hasn’t been widely used in aviation to date. It works by coating the surface with a substance that makes it hard for viruses and other pathogens to stick to them.

At the end of June, business jet sales and acquisitions specialist Jetcraft became the first customer for an anti-microbial product developed by F/List. As reported by Business Jet Interiors, the product will be applied to all eligible aircraft in the company’s inventory. Technology such as this, if proven, could be highly beneficial in the commercial aircraft sector also.

A self-disinfecting lavatory is also in development. Photo: Boeing

As well as this, Boeing is developing a self-disinfecting lavatory, something it has been working on since 2016. With COVID concerns hampering recovery of the aviation industry, the project has suddenly become more urgent.

Called the CleanLav, the product works using UV light to disinfect the lavatory every time the door is closed. Combined with no-touch faucets, handsfree soap dispenser and onboard hand dryers, it could be a great solution to helping passengers feel safer in flight.

Which of these technologies do you think could make the most significant difference? Let us know in the comments.