United has tested a variety of uses for UVC lighting as a disinfectant and consulted with its United CleanPlus partners at the Cleveland Clinic to determine that the flight deck was the most effective use of the technology.
"Safety is our highest priority and we continue to research, test and roll out new technologies to keep our aircraft and terminals safe for both customers and crew," said Bryan Quigley, United's senior vice president of flight operations. "Flight decks have many working parts, screens and components that are challenging to clean with traditional hand wipes and liquids, especially for someone who isn't a pilot. The UVC lighting gives us a faster, more effective disinfection of one of the most important areas of the aircraft."
United currently uses electrostatic spraying to disinfect its aircraft cabins, one of the most effective techniques to clean around harder to reach surfaces, particularly overhead bins and spaces within tray tables. United's use of UVC lighting in the flight deck – along with electrostatic spraying in the cabin – further reflects the airline's approach of matching the right type of technology to the right settings.
This latest enhancement of using UVC lighting technology is another way United is working with its partners at the Cleveland Clinic to guide its policies and procedures on safety and cleanliness.
"United implementing UVC lighting in its flight decks is an important tactic because we know that the virus can be killed by ultraviolet light," said Dr. James Merlino, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at Cleveland Clinic. "It's one more measure that we can implement to ensure that we're doing all we can to keep passengers, flight attendants and crews safer."
United is focused on delivering a new level of cleanliness on the ground and in the air. In addition to the initiatives mentioned above, several of the airline's precautionary measures to further ensure a cleaner environment include:
- Implementing temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hubs and other airports throughout the airline's system
- Installing sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
- Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand six feet apart
- Becoming the first airline in the world to roll out touchless check-in capabilities for customers with bags
At the Gate
- Disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers
- Providing hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes
- Rolling out Clorox Total 360 Electrostatic Sprayers in select markets to disinfect gate areas at United's hub airports
- Enabling customers to self-scan boarding passes
- Boarding fewer customers at a time and, after pre-boarding, boarding from the back of the plane to the front
- Introduced real-time seat assignment update text and email notifications to further United's touchless airport experience
- Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect most aircraft prior to flight
- Disinfecting high-touch areas – such as tray tables and armrests – prior to boarding
- Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
- Deplaning in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
- Providing onboard items including pillows and blankets upon request