Covid cleaning procedures for aircraft: How to clean a plane top to bottom!

Health and Security
Nick Cummins
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4
min read
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March 9, 2021

Keeping aircraft clean is a tough job on the best of days, even when all you have to worry about is a spilled bag of pretzels on the isle floor. But in 2021, airlines need to stay aware of the danger of the coronavirus, and by keeping the aircraft sterilized, keep passengers healthy and safe. But what are the best ways to clean an aircraft?

Eways Aviation has prepared the following video tutorial that explains the best process for cleaning an aircraft cabin (and in what order). We have taken into account the sanitation recommendations from the FAA, EASA and ICAO in this video:

 

Cleaning the Cabin

EASA recommends the following cabin cleaning procedure:

Starting with the main cabin, cleaning crews should disinfect the floor front to aft, and then back again, giving time for the floor to become sterilized.

Then cleaners should focus on the following areas in a top to bottom motion:

  1. Ceiling, overhead bins, the reading light, and air-supply nozzles, side panels, windows, and window shades
  2. Seats, including the headrest which is commonly touched by passengers when moving in the cabin, tray tables, in-flight entertainment screens, armrests, seat belts, magazine racks, and safety cards
  3. Bulkheads and cabin crew seats
  4. The crew should then move onto the bathrooms and lavatories, starting with the ceiling and moving downwards to the walls, toilet, bins, basins, door surface, and especially the locks and handles.
  5. The galley of the aircraft comes next, with the ovens, water boilers, coffee makers, and drawers taking special attention.
  6. If the aircraft has a separate crew compartment or rest area, it should be thoroughly cleaned before each flight. This area should also be cleaned with airline staff supervision, and not missed by local contractors.
  7. Other areas of focus - all cabin interphones, crew seat harnesses, and equipment used for the pre-flight safety demonstration.

Now a special note about seats. Because all airlines are different, there is a combination of materials for seats that don't always allow ideal cleaning.

  1. Woven materials such as seat covers need to be removed and dry cleaned, as disinfectant won't quite penetrate and effectively remove the virus for safe usage.
  2. Leather surfaces need to be carefully cleaned with mild products, as it is easily damaged by heavier products.
  3. Coated fabrics with synthetics need a special product. Airlines will need to check with manufacturers.

All of these surfaces need to be wiped first with a cleaning cloth, then with disinfectant, and then finally with a third and separate drying cloth to remove any residual chemical irritants. It goes without saying that these three cleaning tools should be separated at all times and even welded by different crew members to avoid cross-contamination.

During this entire cleaning process, the aircraft's air conditioner must be turned off, and then wholly cycled once complete. Cleaning crews should also replace their face masks and other personal protection equipment every four hours of work, as they are no longer effective at trapping the virus.

As always, airlines are also recommended to check with the aircraft manufacturer for any special cleaning procedures, and with their local aviation authority.

Using New Technology

Some airlines might have the option to use new UV or sanitizing fog technology to quickly clean the cabin environment. These tools can penetrate far deeper into surfaces than a standard cleaning tool (like a cloth) and can dramatically reduce the number of team members required to clean a plane.

"The process is simple and includes a ground service agent spraying each surface of the aircraft with a fogging machine that sprays a disinfectant that sticks to surfaces but is safe to breathe." Delta Air Lines spokesperson to Business Insider. "American Airlines identified 11 surface points that would be targeted for fogging including seats, in-flight entertainment screens, tray tables, overhead bins, and lavatories, among others," said another spokesperson for American Airlines.

However, team members need to be sure that they don't solely rely on these technologies, as a spot uncleaned could form a viral breeding ground and lead to an outbreak on the plane.

Finishing up the job

Once the aircraft is cleaned, the crew should take care when removing personal protection equipment, avoiding contact with the skin until the hands are sanitized and all equipment is securely disposed of.

Eways Aviation recommends that this operation be diligently performed by a trained team, preventing cross-contamination whilst completing the task quickly enough for an effective turnaround that readies the plane in a timeous fashion for the next flight.

BY
Nick Cummins
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Copywriter - Aviation Journalist
Journalist - Working in news media for over a decade with outlets including 9News and the Discovery Channel, Nick is an airline marketing specialist with a Masters level education. Working closely with AirAsia, Virgin Australia, Turkish Airlines and others, Nick provides unique insight and analysis on a variety of aviation topics. Based in Sydney, Australia.

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