Here Is How Royal Jordanian Sterilized a 787 Coronavirus Rescue Flight

On February 1st at Amman’s Queen Alia Airport, Royal Jordanian airlines conducted a complete sterilization and disinfection of its Boeing 787 aircraft. The aircraft returned from Wuhan on Saturday morning after being sent to the Chinese city to evacuate Jordanians, Palestinians and Arabs residing there. Upon arrival and offloading of passengers, the aircraft underwent a complete sterilization protocol.

Royal Jordanian’s rescue flight used a Boeing 787. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

Complete sterilization

According to the airline’s Facebook post, the entire aircraft underwent a sterilization process. Numerous components were thoroughly treated including seats, lavatory facilities, and the air conditioning system. The airline says it made use of “the best cleaning materials and a highly qualified team from a local company” to do the job.

Below are some of the photos that the airline posted of the process:

Treating the cargo hold. Photo: Royal Jordanian via Facebook
Business class. Photo: Royal Jordanian via Facebook
The galley getting a spray. Photo: Royal Jordanian via Facebook
Overhead compartments were part of the process. Photo: Royal Jordanian via Facebook
Every seat getting treatment. Photo: Royal Jordanian via Facebook

Three phases, two hours

The airline goes on to say that the sterilization and disinfection process took a total of two hours to complete three phases. This complies with international standards set by civil aviation authorities and Boeing’s protocol. The airline says the process helps kill 100% of bacteria, virus and fungi.

This is what the airline had to say about its method:

“Royal Jordanian has confidence in the safety of the sterilization procedure, which followed a scientifically proven methodology, making use of high-quality products. The electrostatic innovative sterilization protocol was used, following the best practices.”

It also adds that it will continue to “exert its utmost efforts to maintain the excellent international reputation it enjoys for maintaining the safety and security of its passengers, employees and aircraft.

According to Simple Flying research, the device seen in many of Royal Jordanian’s photos is a South Korean-made “Electric ULV Pest Control Sprayer“. Using an “optimized design for small scale work”, the main role of the device is to disperse chemicals efficiently at the level of a very fine mist.

Treating the cockpit and flight equipment. Photo: Royal Jordanian via Facebook

Can you actually kill viruses?

Something many of us learn in secondary school science or biology class is that viruses can’t die. This is because they aren’t really alive to begin with. That’s why photos of fumigation and the ‘disinfection’ of aircraft due to the coronavirus outbreak seem confusing.

According to Science Focus, some viruses – including the influenza virus and HIV – can’t survive for more than a few hours outside a host organism unless kept under carefully controlled conditions. However, other viruses such as smallpox, can easily remain infectious for years.

Apparently, there are certain processes that can damage the genome of the virus – breaking the virus’ protein shell (capsid). In fact, without getting too scientific, this treatment means it can no longer replicate itself in the host. Hopefully, the service that Royal Jordanian employed to treat the aircraft used the right techniques.

Simple Flying is monitoring the coronavirus and changes to airline operations. Click here to see our latest updates.

We reached out to Royal Jordanian for comment. However, no response was received at time of publishing this article.