What PPE Is Needed For Reducing The Risk Of Covid During Cleaning Operations

Health and Security
Nick Cummins
min read
February 16, 2021

Biosecurity onboard aircraft is not only a hot topic in the world of aviation but also a new reality for airlines around the world. But sanitizing an aircraft and keeping passengers safe is no small task, and even the slightest missing step can result in danger - for the oncoming passengers and the cleaning crew. Here at Eways Aviation, we have compiled together the very best practices from both the FAA, EASA, and ICAO, in how to best protect your team and passengers. Giving you confidence, and ensuring a safer travel experience for passengers everywhere.

How is the virus spread?

According to the EASA, There are three possible ways by which infection can be transmitted onboard aircraft:

(1) direct inhalation of respiratory droplets and/or suspended airborne particles;

(2) direct contact with saliva, fecal matter or other potentially contaminated body fluids;

(3) direct contact with saliva, fecal matter or other potentially contaminated body fluids deposited on surfaces or, for maintenance staff, contaminated ventilation and air conditioning systems. Virus particles can last a significantly long time on surfaces, dying off at different rates due to cleaning, sunlight, humidity and many more factors.

Whether or not the virus particles are infectious at the point of contact depends on the material surface, how many particles there are, and the susceptibility of the persons interacting with the particles. Overall, you need to assume that the virus is there, and will infect passengers.

What personal protection equipment do you need?

It is important to ensure that you have the right gear. Crew members will need to have masks rated N95 or higher, full coveralls, and protection for the eyes, such as a face shield or goggles. Due to the fact that their hands will be touching potentially contaminated surfaces and cleaning chemicals, crew members will also need to wear gloves. Essentially, airlines need to assume that the entire aircraft is contaminated.

Let's break down the equipment:

Facemask N95 or higher - the face mask is the first line of defense for the body. It protects the nose and mouth cavities from airborne particles. However, not all masks are equal, and for cleaning crews who are very likely to come in contact with the virus, it's important that they know the difference. An N95 mask will filter out up to 95% of all particles, and a higher grade one (such as N97) will protect even more. Cloth masks, or smaller masks, don't actually prevent virus particles from entering the body and should not be used. Masks also need to be fitted tightly around the nose and mouth and changed every four hours.

Goggles - To protect the eyes, crews will need clear tightly sealed goggles. This will prevent moisture droplets containing Covid-19, or strong cleaning agents, from entering the body and causing irritation (or in Covid-19's case, much worse effects). Sunglasses should not be used as they don't form a tight seal around the eyes.

Face shield - To protect other regions of the face, a face shield can be used by the crew. It will stop particles from landing on the cheeks or being trapped in exposed hair on the face. These do not require special ratings and can be homemade, although a suitable manufactured one can be found for affordable prices.

Gloves - Moving further down the body, the hands must be protected by disposable gloves. These gloves will be touching surfaces contaminated with virus particles and thus must be tightly worn up to the mid-forearm. These gloves must never touch the face, or any part of the body, and are the first items to be removed (and thrown away) when disrobing.

Full-body coveralls - The last must-have item is full-body coveralls. These outfits will cover normal clothes and encase the crew members in a thin (but sealed) membrane that protects against virus particles. Like the gloves, these must be thrown away after use. Only the face should be exposed, which in turn is covered by goggles, a face shield, and a facemask. All of this equipment can be found below in the Eways online PPE store.

Which Cleaning Agents Work Best?

Choosing the tools for the cleaning is also an important choice. Chemicals and disinfectant chosen needs to be safe for human contact, and not corrosive to aircraft cabin materials or electronics. Water-based cleaning agents should not be used, as they can spread the virus and damage the cabin.

A list of efficient cleaning and disinfecting substances to be used for disinfection against SARS-CoV-2 and principles to be considered as published by the ECDC ( ECDC - Baka, Agoritsa; Cenciarelli, Orlando, 2020) are available at the following links: —

  • https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/interim-guidance-environmentalcleaning-non-healthcare-facilities-exposed-2019
  • https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/disinfection-environments-covid-19

The US Environmental Protection Agency published its ‘EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the Cause of COVID-19’ list at the following links:

  • https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2- covid-19
  • https://www.ecri.org/components/HDJournal/Pages/Disinfectant-Concentrations-forEPA-list-N-COVID-19.aspx?tab=2

For the equipment listed in this guide, Eways has a guaranteed supply of PPE specially designed for airline operations and suited for flights throughout the world - no matter how big or small the airline. Don't hesitate to have a look at our PPE catalog.

Nick Cummins
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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