Back to Squawk list
  • 80

This device can disinfect the interior of an airplane – and kill coronavirus – in minutes

Ever since coronavirus concerns have taken over essentially every aspect of everyday live, airlines have been paying more attention to the process of cleaning planes. Now, a company named Dimer is seeing increased interest in a device they conceived several years ago to battle the flu. Think drink cart, but when you run it down the aisle of an airplane, it disinfects the entire interior in minutes. A guy named Elliott Krightenberg. He describes himself as an “international and intergalactic… ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

Chris B 18
Anything that improves the cleanliness of an aircraft has to help not just the passengers but also the crew.

Even if its not perfect today, they'll find ways to improve it.
jim sisti 12
Hey, it may still need some tweaking and improvements, but it has to start somewhere. After all, as amazing a piece of technology an A350 or 787 is, it is not exactly what Orville and Wilbur 1st rolled out on the sands of Kitty Hawk. And everyone agrees there are many aspects of aircraft sanitation that could be improved upon, so what is wrong if this is done just after the cabin cleaners finish their cleaning, It might not hit 100% of everything on a plane, but hitting an extra 40 or 50% is better than 0.
geroldn 11
Disinfection methods all depend on contact time and intensity. Whether its a chemical like chlorine or UV light, how strong is the disinfectant, is it contacting every microbe, bacteria, virus, etc. and was the contact long enough to kill. Seat pockets, tray tables, under seat, overhead baggage compartments, etc. There are a lot of places that will be in the shadows, how will you get there? In addition many plastics (think everything in the cabin) will photodegrade when exposed to UV light.
pjdm 4
I don't spend a lot of time under my seat on an airplane. If the light can hit it, probably that's where most people are going to be provided some protection.
Think about both sides of the seat belt, for one. And the point of UV degradation is a good one too. These materials probably were not designed to withstand so much UV radiation.
Jon Turner 7
This device is a variant(same tech different body)of the device that is now used to decontaminate operating rooms in hospitals nationwide. I was a housekeeping supervisor at a hospital when we bought one of those machines. We did before and after testing to see if the $100k purchase price was a good investment. Both the data that we collected and what was shared by other facilities was truly impressive! We had the cleanest OR in the state (verified by independent testing)before using the Xenex. After the purchase and use they were as close to perfect as possible given that humans had to inhabit the space. This would be an amazing leap in cleanliness for the airlines, however, as mentioned before,the machines are dangerous and somewhat fragile for this kind of use.
Peter Fuller 13
Interesting, but the devil’s in the details. Someone would have to open all the tray tables first, then close them after the UV blast. Also the seat back pockets would still be problematic. There’d also need to be a way for the UV cart to give extra attention to the lavs- they need that.
I'm amazed at all the naysayers. People, THIS IS A START IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.. Yeah, so it may not clean the magazine pockets.. But you lay your faces on hotel bedspreads that haven't been washed for ages!
So, if you think you can do better. Step up..
David Tsai 3
There's a lot of perfecting getting in the way of good here.
For all suggesting using a clorine-based solution for contact cleaning or vaporizing, I strongly urge you to talk to your maintenance department about what clorine does to stainless steel...

There are alternative methodologies to decontaminating an aircraft interior. Do the work to find out what's best for your application. The cited equipment may work for you. It may not. Regardless, exercising due diligence in researching how a specific decon process works on CV19 (or doesn't work) and its attendant associated hazards is the prudent course of action. Otherwise, as a safety mentor used to say to me, "You want it bad? You'll get it bad..."
this system may not be perfect vbut you must start somewhere, and just using rags and Lysol or disinfectant is not enough..
kwanfam 3
UVC light kills microbes that are in its direct path. Crevices, sides and undersides, and distant objects may not receive enough UVC light to kill microbes located there. The UVC also deteriorates the interior fabric and materials, so it will not be a cheap or fully effective solution. Electrostatic fogging may be a better choice. It will be hard to fly without cleaning wipes.
Mhrynyk 3
UV is a great method when you have a perfectly clean surface with no shadow effects. Intensity also changes based on the distance from the beam, which can impact the effectiveness of the process. If you are truly in search of a proper and deep disinfection method, vapourized hydrogen peroxide at +480ppm for at least 25 minutes or more, or chlorine dioxide are the best approaches.

Like with any disinfection methods aside from the radioactive ones, surface decomposition is a reality with any of the methods with their own rates of attrition respectively.
Jim Porter 3
Equipment like/similar to this will become a mainstay sooner than later hopefully. As well as magazine removal anything to help reduce the possibility of spreading the virus. Will be interesting to see how wearing a mask full flight works
Chris Muncy 5
I believe this is a start, a needed one, alone with the fogger, they both would do a great job. But... Those nooks and crannies and seat back pockets still need cleaning. I flew Delta first class from IAH to SEA and back in December.... My daughter's car was cleaner, and her car is a rolling garbage truck....
I really do hope that airline companies take a very hard look on their cleaning processes and procedures and airplane manufacturers should be looking at howto make it easier to keep planes clean by eliminating those nooks and crannies.

Overall a pretty neat concept.
pjdm 2
I think version 2 should roll down the aisle and serve drinks when I push the call button.
Marc Dante 1
I think version 3 will roll down the aisle AFTER passengers are seated to disinfect everything and EVERYONE at the same time. :)
AWAAlum 2
Am I wrong in seeing the irony when a machine can kill the virus in an airplane, but we can't figure out how to kill it in people?
When the video started and the inventor is literally standing in his garage, I thought: hoo-boy. But later, it does show the device being used in an actual aircraft interior. I would love to see some numbers of efficacy -- however you would do that -- but the UV tech is tried-and-true. And it doesn't need to get to OR levels. We can decide what "good enough" means exactly, but it just needs to be good enough.
If this is the "game changer" that it claims to me , EVERY airline big and small needs to invest in this. Charge and extra $30 per ticket or lower the CEO salary by 10% ( crony capitalism). Once social distancing begins to relax , this could be what at least gets the industry back to a reduced normal
bigkahuna400 2
Just take it out of the baggage fees....
Brent Vegors 4
There are a variety of processes which, when combined, should be extremely effective, albeit likely very expensive. Manual wipe down of closed surfaces e.g. tray tables, closed aircraft fogging (fumigating), and finally, despite the already noted degradation of materials due to UV light exposure, UV light sterilization as the FINAL component meets and even exceeds the level we use in hospitals. We have LONG known seatback pockets are a hotbed of "yuckiness". Magazines need to go away, Emergency cards could be switched out between flights OR made to be 1 solid page for easier sanitizing, and what items are being served/ are available could also be printed on 1 flat form for switch out OR manual sanitizing. Having worked as a FA and now as a BSN (Nurse) let me address the obvious: there is no ONE way to completely disinfect an aircraft. Using a common sense, multi-pronged, and very methodical cleaning regimen WILL greatly decrease the risk to everyone. With all of that being said, the aforementioned process is just not practical for every turn of the aircraft. Passengers can wipe down their tray tables, IFE, armrests, etc. Having the removable single sheet forms would allow for a much faster turn, and finally, depending on the product used, closed aircraft fumigation can take as little as 3 minutes to be effective. Add the UV lights with each landing at an equipped facility would certainly go a VERY long way in an almost impossible situation. I do not see this as a long term solution. In our ER & OR we have an emergency sanitizing pressurized solution. Upon identification of an extremely dangerous pathogen the patient is immediately placed in a negative pressure isolation pod, we ALL evacuate to the established holding room (which has UV lighting), we hit the discharge button, the doors immediately seal, ALL airflow is cut to/from the room, UV lights flood the room, then there is a massive high pressure fumigation discharge. It is expensive, it is necessary, it is VERY rarely used, it works. Long term solution, no. Immediate intervention, yes. Just something to consider.
By disinfecting the surfaces with these sanitizers, will this leave toddlers -- who like to touch everything -- exposed to these chemicals? Is there going to be a future liability issue? just wondering.
SkyAware123 3
great. Now among the dozens of other fees we will see a disinfectant fee. Oh and probably a covid19 recovery fee. yep, they'll stick it to us.
If it costs a nickel and enhances passenger experience, AA Dougie won't go for it.
AWAAlum 2
That's pretty harsh.
dnorthern 2
Old technology. Has been used I hospitals for over 10 years. It does kill germs. But, it does not eliminate the “dirt”. That booger on the tray table? The virus contained therein will be eliminated without prejudice. However, unless someone wipes down the tray table, the inert booger will remain.
Jon Turner 2
.... Inert Booger.... LOL
I will use this! :-)
in case anyone else in the EU tries to load the link, they get a stupid message instead of the article amounting to "we can't show you our content because you're in the EU and we suck at GDPR".. in that case, you can sitll view the content via the wonderful link:
rbt schaffer 1
All except that tiny bugger someone flicked in a corner
Correction: I believe it's spelled as "booger." See above.
lynx318 1
Wondering how the windows and seals handle the UV?
Future aircraft interiors could be designed with UV-resistant materials, and with UV lights installed permanently in the ceiling with enough coverage to irradiate the entire aircraft. Then you'd just need a few minutes during a turn to make sure everyone is off, close up the aircraft and turn on the UV lights.

Of course, there would need to be one hell of a fail-safe to ensure the UV lamps didn't accidentally come on during flight, or when anyone was on board.
Dave Steele 1
Necessity is the mother of invention.

If this machine can do what it’s claimed to be able to, I can see it being adapted for use in all kinds of spaces, not solely airplane cabins.
dnorthern 1
The technology existed before. Hospitals have been using since at least 2008
Jeffrey Bue 1
I'm usually skeptical about such things but this gadget looks promising.
David Browett 1
Well done to the inventor, hopefully it works well as suggested
Agree with Mhrynyk. High intensity UV light only works on surfaces which have a direct line of sight with the bulb. There will be no disinfection in shadow areas. There is no real way to disinfect the entirety of an airplane unless you use some sort of vapor-phase agent that can contact ALL surfaces.
Among the issues are:
1. As stated, foggers and UV will not reach many areas (tray tables, under arm rests, seat pockets, etc.) which are touched by passengers (consider an over-active 5 year-old on the plane)
2. Until all employees are routinely tested, given paid sick leave (so they don't turn up shedding virus), then this is all for naught
3. Cleaners are at the front line, are 'essential workers' yet the pay and benefits is not in line with their responsibility, and see point 2.
4. Passengers have to take responsibility - don't travel if you're sick, use hand sanitizer and be scrupulously clean, and wear a non-medical mask (the hospitals need medical masks, but you can make an effective one easily enough)
5. Airlines should cut off the source of contagion - as Emirates are doing by rapid testing everyone before they get on the 'plane.

It is not rocket science.
Emirates testing strategy is flawed. They are only testing for people who have antibodies and that will not contain the virus if someone is actively infected, which their test will not do. Plus, you must be infected up to 14 days in order to establish antibodies, so someone who is recently infected may not have antibodies developed. The use of a molecular assay would be required to show someone has an active infection. Now, if the goal is only to let immune people on board, then an antibody test may do this. But that's all the test will tell you.
cyberjet 1
I agree with much of what you say but I wouldn't look to the Emirates plan for pre-boarding tests as a panacea. All current testing methods have shown high rates of both false positives and false negatives.
and the updside of the closed trays.
And where is the clinical data that validates this inventor's claims?
There isn't any?
That's what I thought.
Beware of snake oil salesmen who make "intergalactic" claims.
David Beattie 0
It’s the same process used by hospitals. But you’re right. What do they know? It doesn’t work. Just a conspiracy.
dnorthern 0
What you say is true. Except a plane and a hospital room are vastly different.

Thomas is right. Where is the statistical data that supports the claim.
John Beckvold 0
How about we eliminate seatback compartments. Emergency info could be attached to seat back. We don't need fluff magazines from airlines and barf bags could issued on an ass-needed basis.
Shenghao Han 0
Why not just install clip-on rows of UV lights?
They can be hooked and suspended on over head bin handles?
To me, for each axle, one row of UV lights hung above and one row of UV lights on the floor will have similar effect to that "game changer" You really don't need robotic arms...

That said, UV lights won't really help with deeper grimes collected in aircraft carpet for years...
an wuth 1
Such germicidal UV lamps are rather expensive & fairly delicate. It'd probably be cost prohibitive to have a load of them you can spread out over an environment. Years ago I worked in a lab where they handled pathogens you really didn't want to be near - I think from memory there was only two such lamps in the airlock room between the labs and the outside world as a) that was all that was needed to get the job done; b) they are/were fairly dangerous to humans; and c) cost a silly amount of money.
#highqualityhealthcare on airplanes
KoolerKT 0
Just adequately clean the planes with a bleach solution.
you don't even need bleach - soap and warm water will do the job.
cyberjet 0
That's ridiculous. How are you supposed to clean aircraft surfaces with soap and water for the 20 seconds of scrubbing it takes to remove the virus, and once you've soaked the interior, how do you dry those surfaces?
cessna210g 0
A bleach solution on aircraft is a big no no. Bleach is highly corrosive to aluminum alloys.
D Rotten -3 will trade THE SEASONAL FLU for TOXIC CHEMICALS?! Mmmmm......yeah......NO THANKS!!
This device cold be a good temporary disinfectant. That said, if the UV light does work, then perhaps it is time to install the UV light so that it shines into every nook and cranny, including the restrooms. The on switch would only be accessible to the ground crews so as to make sure there is no one on board.


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.