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Many industries have been negatively impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But if there’s one industry that has suffered the most, it would have to be the air travel industry. Between the Canada-United States border and multiple countries having to shut down, no one is flying off anywhere for any reasons. Then again, it’s more than understanding that no one is doing so for the sake of their health.
As lockdowns appear to be lifting, many industries are gearing up to open back up. Despite this, the airline industry appears to still be shutdown with no idea as to when it’ll open up. It also doesn’t help that most who want to fly are most likely none too eager to board a plane as coronavirus rages on.
With that in mind, the air industry is now looking into technology that can help bring customers back. One example of this is comes from Hong Kong, where their airports have cleaners to spray an antimicrobial coating everywhere. This includes elevator buttons, handrails, and basically anywhere else that’s touched regularly. They’re also currently testing out a so-called “Clean Tech” booth. This would monitor a person’s temperature and sprays them with a light disinfectant. The idea behind this is to kill any germs on the body.
Meanwhile, an airport in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is also testing out technology to keep it clean. In their case, they’re utilizing robotic floor cleaners to clean the airport’s floors 24/7. It also uses disinfectant and UVC light to further sanitize the airport’s floors.
The use of UVC light isn’t limited to Pittsburgh. One company in Florida has created Healthe— a portal people go through that emit said light to sanitize them. While some may be concerned about how safe this is on humans, it’s been proven that short exposure to UVC light is safe. Similar products to Healthe may become more of a thing as time goes on.
"It's constantly recirculating the air at a pretty high volume through a very powerful UV tube. It's killing anything airborne. I could definitely see this being used at airports," explained business owner Christian Pinkston. He installed a similar to Healthe— the Cleanse Portal— at his office.
As for the safety of UVC light, Katherine Karolick— the senior vice-president of information technology at Pittsburgh International Airport— said, “UVC light has been used in hospitals for decades as a way to kill microorganisms. Adding that extra layer of ultraviolet light to the scrubbers helps ensure that even more.”
Then there are the safety measures concerning the seats in an airplane. A company called Glassafe creates transparent plastic shields that surround the head area of a seat. It covers both the top and the side to keep you separated from passengers sitting beside you. It’s portable and can be stored in between flights.
Despite all of these ideas and proposals, there are still going to be people concerned about just how safe airports are. Even once the coronavirus pandemic winds down, a vaccine is created, and the spread is non-existent, such fears will continue to persist for years to come. But it’s clear that the airline industry is continuing to work hard to maintain cleanliness to bring customers back. After all, social distancing, face masks and gloves will only grow more difficult to do as time passes.
"Are we going to continue with super high levels of disinfection and social distancing and wearing masks for the rest of our lives? Probably not, but I think some level of these measures will continue," explained Karolick.