How far will airlines go to ensure that cabins remain clean and safe as more passengers resume air travel amid COVID-19? JetBlue is leading the way in using high-tech innovations to bust the virus. The airline recently announced that it will begin using ultraviolet, robot-powered light to clean its planes. The technology is being tested as part of a 90-day pilot program with Honeywell.
The idea of using ultraviolet light to disinfect isn't entirely new. It has been known for some time that UV light is capable of reducing viruses and bacteria associated with illnesses like SARS and MERS when applied at proper levels. However, this is the first time that an airline in the United States is attempting to clean planes with UV technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.
JetBlue's new high-tech cleaning system could drastically streamline the process of disinfecting airplane cabins between flights. According to Honeywell, the cleaning system is capable of reducing the presence of certain viruses and bacteria on the surfaces inside airplane cabins. What is most impressive is the fact that this robot-powered system can clean an entire mid-sized airplane cabin in roughly 10 minutes. The machine works by sweeping its mechanical arms over the tops of seats and surfaces to disperse ultraviolet light. Each machine is able to whip through cabin aisles because the design is not much larger than the beverage carts used to push refreshments during flights.
JetBlue is the first carrier in the country to utilize a machine that uses UV light to disinfect plane cabins. However, JetBlue won't be abandoning more traditional methods of cleaning aircraft interiors during its 90-day pilot program with Honeywell. The airline intends to continue with the cleaning and disinfection methods already in place while also introducing the new UV technology.
JetBlue will not be utilizing UV cleaning on every plane during the 90-day pilot program. It has been revealed that flights at John F. Kennedy (JFK) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL) will be used in the pilot program.