This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Siemens Smart Infrastructure USA has joined the effort to provide the aviation industry with options to guard against the risk of Covid-19 infection. The group is now offering UV light systems that it claims provide an effective way to disinfect aircraft cabins or buildings such as FBOs. The equipment, which uses technology developed by a company called Violet Defense, can be customized according to the size and layout of the areas to be cleaned.
According to the company, the UV treatment has been demonstrated to “inactivate” pathogens. Florida-based Violet Defense presented the findings of third-party laboratory tests showing that it has been effective in “killing” various bacteria, viruses, and fungi including E.coli, Salmonella, MRSA, C.diff, Norovirus, and C.auris. Florida-based Violet Defense is awaiting results from independent testing to confirm whether it is specifically effective against Covid-19.
Alex Yashkevich, a senior portfolio manager with Siemens, told AIN that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines indicate that to be considered effective against emerging pathogens, like Covid-19, a product must be proven to be able to effective against at least two viral pathogens in the Spaulding Classification model. According to Violet Defense, its technology meets this standard.
The Pulsed Xenon technology used in the equipment offered by Siemens delivers a broad spectrum of UV-C, UV-B, UV-A and violet-blue light that it says will quickly kill germs. Since UV light can harm human skin and eyes, the equipment features a safety mechanism that means it can only be activated when the area being treated is unoccupied.
UV light only affects pathogens that are within a direct line of sight, and so the solution offered by Siemens involves the use of multiple overlapping lights to achieve an optimal impact level in the cabin or space being disinfected. By leveraging the low-penetration characteristics of UV rays, the indirect reach to some obscured areas (e.g. beneath aircraft seats) can be achieved using reflective materials such as aluminum, foil or reflective paint.
The “shining range” of the lights used is around 13 feet. In tests conducted on a Boeing 757 airliner, the Siemens team was able to disinfect a 100-sq-ft area in 30 minutes.
Siemens consults with operators over factors such as how quickly they need to be able to disinfect an aircraft cabin between flights. A number of factors, such as the size of the aircraft, will determine how many UV units are required and how they should best be configured.
Katy Glynn, a security solutions accountant executive with Siemens, told AIN that several aircraft operators have purchased the equipment, mainly those providing Part 135 charter flights that need to be able to have aircraft ready for new clients. She said that since the units are lightweight and easy to use, some flight departments have issued the equipment to flight crew to take on the road to disinfect their hotel rooms for added health protection while traveling.
A study conducted at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in 2015 found that the use of UV light to disinfect hospital rooms was significantly more cost-efficient than alternatives, such as manual application of cleaning fluids. Separately, Siemens has approached avionics manufacturers to offer access to a demonstration unit to test in proximity to their cockpit systems to ensure the process is not harmful.