Boeing tests hand-held UV wall to sanitize cockpits, toilets

FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is seen at its Chicago headquarters, in this April 24, 2013 file photo. the KC-46 tank tanker it develops for the U.S. Air Force. REUTERS / Jim Young / File photo

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Boeing Co said on Friday that it is developing a handle that emits ultraviolet light to neutralize bacteria and viruses, part of a suite of methods to disinfect surfaces and controls of aircraft decks, such as surfaces in the cabin.

Concerns by airline workers and passengers about the spread of COVID-19 have sparked a rift among companies to roll out new technology for aircraft sanitation.

The wall would eliminate the need to use alcohol or other disinfectants that could damage sensitive electronic equipment, said Rae Lutters, chief engineer for Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program, in a media briefing.

Boeing is looking at licensing the technology and hiring third-party companies in the fall to begin making the wands for commercial use, it said.

Boeing has worked on the technology with 13 different airlines. Kevin Callahan, a Boeing technical colleague leading the test of the wall prototype, cited “very strong interest” as carriers think about restoring confidence in aircraft as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Under increased cleaning practices, many airlines have begun using electrostatic disinfectants, which kill viruses on contact, as well as an anti-microbial spray that forms a coating for 30 days.

Boeing is also testing an anti-microbial coating for aircraft aircraft.

(The story corrects the name of the person mentioned in paragraph 5)

Report by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Edited by Tom Brown

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